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Last Updated: Monday, 20 September, 2004, 18:35 GMT 19:35 UK
Salt firms complain over campaign
Popular foods like pizza can contain high salt levels
Salt manufacturers have made an official complaint about a health campaign which uses an animated slug to highlight warnings over salt intake.

They submitted the complaint about the Food Standards Agency campaign to the Advertising Standards Authority.

The manufacturers say the "Sid the Slug" campaign is based on incorrect evidence of the dangers of salt.

But the FSA warns salt is a risk factor for high blood pressure, which is a factor in 170,000 deaths a year.

'Human cost'

The Salt Manufacturers' Association has complained about the FSA's use of the animated slug to front its 4m campaign.

Cutting down on salt can significantly reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure
Sir John Krebbs, Food Standards Agency
The industry says the TV and press campaign's assertions that too much salt is unhealthy are incorrect.

It claims salt supports life and there is no evidence to show it has ever been responsible for death.

Peter Sherratt, general secretary of the Salt Manufacturers' Association, said: "We realise that Sid is intended as a fun character, but the message he carries is a serious one that is incorrect and potentially very damaging to the image of an essential product."

And it cites the Department of Health's own National Diet and Nutrition Survey published earlier this year, which found salt had no effect on the blood pressure of healthy people.

Complaint 'no surprise'

A spokesman for the FSA said the scientific evidence behind the campaign was sound.

"We can all benefit from cutting down on our salt intake to make our daily maximum no more than 6g a day.

"We would welcome the opportunity to present this evidence to the ASA," he said.

Launching the campaign last week, chairman Sir John Krebs said: "High blood pressure really is the "silent killer" as those living with it are three times more likely to develop heart disease and stroke, and twice as likely to die from these diseases as those with normal levels.

"The human cost in terms of illness and death and the costs to the NHS are very high. Cutting down on salt can significantly reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure."

Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of campaign group Consensus Action on Salt and Health, said: "I am not surprised that the Salt Manufacturers Association is opposing all moves to reduce salt consumption - their job is to sell salt.

"Approximately 40% of their members' profit comes from sales of salt to the processed food industry so they are fighting to maintain their profitability."

But he added: "Unfortunately for them, the evidence linking our current salt intake to blood pressure levels is very strong, and bringing our salt intake down to below the recommended level of 6g per day for adults will result in many thousands of lives saved in years to come."

The Advertising Standards Authority confirmed it had received the complaint from the salt manufacturers.

It will now consider the evidence provided by both the manufacturers and the FSA, before deciding whether or not to uphold the manufacturers' complaint.

Popular foods 'loaded with salt'
08 Jul 04  |  Health
Britons told to cut salt intake
13 Sep 04  |  Health
08 Feb 03  |  Medical notes

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