Industry faces a salt battery from minister

24 June 2004
Industry faces a salt battery from minister

The food industry has again been lambasted by the Government for not doing enough to reduce the level of salt in its products.

Chips and pain: the public health minister wants more cuts in salt
Fast-food chain McDonald's was one of 27 food businesses to receive a damning letter from public health minister Melanie Johnson accusing them of doing little to remove salt from their products. Johnson said that too little was being done too slowly, and that current plans produced by the food industry would cut daily salt intake by only 0.6g by 2005, while the Government is calling for a 6g reduction. But Martin Paterson, deputy director general of the Food and Drink Federation, hit back at Johnson. He said: "The UK industry has made huge strides in reducing salt across a range of products. The industry is committed to playing a constructive role in the Government's food and health plans, but in a consumer democracy we can only move at the pace dictated by consumers." Chef Nick Nairn, who has been campaigning against the use of salt in food preparation for some time, said that he welcomed Johnson's comments. "There is far too much salt floating around in processed food and it's got to be taken out," Nairn said. "The food industry is extremely aware of this and has been for some time. "It's up to them to get themselves in order, but I do want to work with them to help find ways of reducing levels of salt." Nairn added that chefs also had a role to play in helping to reduce the level of salt in food. "I want to urge my fellow high-profile chefs to make a stand on this," he said. "If high-profile chefs say don't add it, young chefs will look to them and follow their lead. "We have to get the message across that we eat too much salt." Too much salt?Salt and your health - 200,000 people die every year from health problems linked to too much salt in their diets. - 5,000 lives could be saved each year if the average adult's daily salt intake were reduced by just 1g. - Average adult salt intake is 18-24g a day. - A healthy level of daily salt intake for an adult is 6g. Melanie Johnson's salt guidelines - 43% reduction in sausages. - 40% reduction in beef burgers. - 20-40% reduction in bread and cereals. - 38% reduction in baked beans.
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