LONDON — The Food Standards Agency, an independent government department established by the United Kingdom to protect the public’s health and consumer interests in relation to food, has revised salt reduction targets for 2012 for 80 categories of foods. While voluntary targets already were in place for 2010, the F.S.A. said the new targets "are more challenging than previous targets, to make sure food retailers and manufacturers maintain the momentum in reducing salt levels."
Among the new targets for 2012, salt intake in bacon was lowered to 2.88 grams from 3.5 grams, bread and rolls was lowered to 1 gram from 1.1 gram, and potato crisps was lowered to 1.38 grams from 1.5 grams.
According to the F.S.A., adults in the United Kingdom currently consume 8.6 grams of salt per day, down 0.9 grams since 2001, but still above the F.S.A.’s stated goal of 6 grams, which was set forth in September 2004. By comparison, Americans consume between 9 and 12 grams of salt per day, considerably more than the U.S. goal of 5 to 6 grams.
The 2010 targets were put in place in 2006, but the F.S.A. had committed to reviewing them in 2008. A number of significant reductions have been achieved in salt reduction, the F.S.A. said, including an approximate one-third reduction in the average amount of salt found in branded pre-packaged, sliced bread, and a reduction of about 44% in the amount of salt in branded breakfast cereals.
"The U.K. is leading the way in Europe and beyond in salt reduction," said Rosemary Hignett, head of nutrition at the F.S.A. "The reductions that have already been achieved in the U.K. are already saving lives. To continue to make progress we have set 2012 targets at levels that will make a further real impact on consumers’ intakes, while taking into account technical and safety issues associated with taking salt out of food.
"We welcome the reductions in salt levels that have already been achieved by industry, and its continued cooperation is vital if we are to continue to improve public health. The 2012 targets are challenging, but we also believe them to be achievable, though we will continue to monitor this.
"The public health case for reducing the amount of salt in people’s diets to 6 grams a day is as strong as ever."