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Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 10:51 GMT
Food industry 'uses too much salt'
Salt shaker
Salt is a major risk factor in strokes and heart attacks
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has criticised food producers for endangering people's health by using too much salt.

It says they should follow the example set by the bread industry which it praises for having reduced salt levels dramatically in the last three years.

Lowering our dietary intake of sodium, a chemical component of salt, is recommended as a vital step towards combating one of the UK's biggest killers - coronary heart disease.

High intakes of salt are linked to high blood pressure and stroke.

The Food Standards Agency has analysed the salt levels of five most commonly consumed types of bread in the UK and found that sodium levels have dropped by more than 20% in three years.

As a result, each person in Britain now consumes thirteen-and-a-half fewer teaspoons of salt per year.

Despite the reductions in salt intake, Britain consumes the equivalent of one-and-a-half teaspoons per person a day - the maximum recommended level is just one level teaspoon.

The FSA study revealed "fresh" bread, from in-store bakeries, contained the highest levels of salt at 545 milligrams of sodium per 100 grammes of bread.

Important change

Sir John Krebs
Sir John Krebs praised the bread industry
Sir John Krebs, FSA chairman, welcomed the action taken by the bread industry.

He said: "This change is of real importance for the health of our bread eating nation - particularly for those who have been advised to reduce their salt intake.

"In the UK, the people eat on average three slices of bread a day, so this is key to lowering their overall dietary intake of salt.

"Bread manufacturers have worked hard to achieve this reduction, I congratulate them on their success.

"Salt levels have lowered, but bread is still as popular as ever, proving that changes with important health benefits can be made without sacrificing taste."

The FSA is now calling on the rest of the food industry to follow suit.

It is particularly concerned that 75% of people's dietary salt intake comes from salt already in foods.

The rest comes when it is added during cooking or at the table.

The BBC's Nicola Carslaw
"Salt in moderation is essential"
See also:

30 Jan 01 | Health
Health fears over hidden salt
19 Feb 01 | Health
More reasons to shun salt
07 Feb 00 | Health
Supermarket war on salt
27 Jul 99 | Medical notes
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