Bread is only food meet­ing salt tar­get, sur­vey finds

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Ruth McKee

Bread rolls are the only man­u­fac­tured food­stuff likely to meet strin­gent 2017 salt-re­duc­tion tar­gets, re­search shows.

The food in­dus­try will miss al­most ev­ery tar­get set to lower the amount of the “hid­den killer” in pro­cessed food.

The 2017 goal had been that by the end of this year prod­ucts should con­tain no more than 1.13g of salt per 100g. A sur­vey car­ried out by Con­sen­sus Ac­tion on Salt and Health (Cash) found the only food group likely to scrape into this range is “bread and rolls”.

Af­ter ex­am­in­ing all 28 cat­e­gories of pro­cessed food, re­searchers could not find any other item com­ing close to meet­ing tar­gets. Doc­tors and sci­en­tists dis­cov­ered that Galaxy Ul­ti­mate Marsh­mal­low Hot Cho­co­late is saltier than sea­wa­ter – and that a sin­gle serv­ing has more salt than a packet of crisps.

The pub­lic health re­spon­si­bil­ity deal was set up by gov­ern­ment in 2011 to en­cour­age man­u­fac­tur­ers to self-reg­u­late. Tar­gets for 2017 were set in 2014 and Cash agreed to mon­i­tor the scheme by record­ing the salt con­tent of com­mon food­stuffs in UK shops and su­per­mar­kets.

The rec­om­men­da­tions were de­signed to get con­sumers eat­ing no more than the rec­om­mended 6g of salt a day. A high-salt diet has been linked to high blood pres­sure, heart dis­ease and stroke.

Health cam­paign­ers are call­ing on pub­lic health of­fi­cials to ur­gently set new tar­gets for 2020 and push food com­pa­nies to meet this year’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

Look­ing at a shop­ping bas­ket of ev­ery­day food items, re­searchers found for ev­ery high-salt op­tion, health­ier low sodium al­ter­na­tives were avail­able.

In com­par­ing the two sets of gro­ceries, they found a dif­fer­ence of 57g of salt be­tween the healthy choice and the salt­laden set of goods.

Graham MacGregor, pro­fes­sor of car­dio­vas­cu­lar medicine at Queen Mary Univer­sity of Lon­don, called the find­ings “a na­tional scan­dal.” He added: “The UK was lead­ing the world in salt re­duc­tion, but Pub­lic Health Eng­land are do­ing noth­ing to en­sure 2017 salt tar­gets are met.”

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