Salt in Processsed Food Reduced but Consumption Remains High31 May 2013
IRELAND - A Salt Reduction Programme seminar, hosted by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), this week outlined the actions that must continue to be undertaken to drive further salt reductions in processed food and the nation’s diet.
Since 2003, the FSAI has coordinated a salt reduction programme working in partnership with the food industry, Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII), Retail Ireland, various State bodies and organisations to achieve voluntary, gradual and sustained reductions in the salt content of processed foods.
Since efforts to reduce salt in processed foods began in 2003, the average daily salt intake in adults has decreased by 1.1g. However, the FSAI stated that while levels of salt have dropped in processed foods, the average dietary salt intakes in Irish adults continue to exceed the recommended daily intake of 6g salt per/day. Addition of salt by consumers at the table and during cooking can represent up to 30% of total salt intake. The FSAI reiterated its call on consumers to select low salt or salt free options when choosing products and to cut back on the discretionary salt added during cooking and at the table.
According to Prof. Alan Reilly, Chief Executive, FSAI in the ten years of the FSAI’s involvement in salt reduction, there have been substantial reductions across many food groups and sectors, in particular breads and breakfast cereals.
“The progressive voluntary programme of salt reduction undertaken with the FSAI has always emphasised the need for industry to take responsibility for reducing salt in food. This partnership approach has yielded significant reductions. The past ten years of salt reduction has provided us with important lessons in how best to broach the issues related to the overall nutrient profile of our food and the impact that it is having on public health”, stated Prof. Reilly.
“With the rising obesity epidemic there has been a move towards a more joined up approach at national, EU and international levels to not only reduce salt, but also unnecessary sugar and fats in our food. It is therefore considered time for the food industry to drive its own programme of reformulation of all foods, with the FSAI maintaining its independent monitoring role and oversight of commitments and achievements by the industry”, continued Prof. Reilly.
Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII) is intending to launch a new ‘Livewell Platform’ which will drive this agenda forward and offers an opportunity to transfer responsibility for driving future salt reduction to the food industry. Mr Shane Dempsey, Head of Consumer Foods, Food and Drink Industry Ireland (FDII) addressed delegates at the seminar and stated that the industry is continuing to reformulate its products, having already made substantial progress, across a number of nutrients on a scientific basis and where technically possible.
“FDII intends to monitor the impact of reformulation over the past five years and on an ongoing basis over the next five years. This information will demonstrate the huge positive contribution the food industry has made and will make to population health issues. We hope this will inform future policy approaches to key population health issues. It is intended that this work will be carried out in a collaborative initiative involving industry and the Government over the coming five years,” stated Mr Dempsey.
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