The Food Standard Agency’s (FSA’s) long delay in publishing revised 2010 salt targets has left the baking industry in limbo, with companies unsure how much to invest in product reformulation as time runs out before the deadline.
After first agreeing 2010 salt reduction targets with industry three years ago, the FSA launched a consultation last year, looking at further lowering these targets for some foods, including cakes, pasties, sausage rolls and pies.
The revised 2010 targets, along with new targets for 2012, were meant to be published in December, but the FSA has still not yet revealed what these may be, with time now running out for companies to meet them.
Chris Morrant, chairman of the technical committee at the Association of Bakery Ingredient Manufacturers, said that some of the targets being proposed by the FSA were "totally unrealistic". "The FSA has lost credibility with industry in the way that it has handled the new targets. The timescales for achieving them are unrealistic. We have to gradually acclimatise consumers to less salt."
Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Sector manager Barbara Gallani told British Baker that both the revised 2010 targets and the 2012 targets went "too far". "We have come to a technical limit and the texture of products will be compromised with the proposed targets. Our members will find it difficult to meet them," she said.
"The FSA has shifted the goal posts on targets, but has left the industry in limbo," added Elizabeth Ardoh-Kesson, technical manager at the British Meat Processors’ Association, which represents savoury pastry manufacturers. "Our members don’t know whether to start making changes now or wait to see what the new targets will be. The problem is that there is not enough time to imple- ment changes."
A spokesperson for the FSA said the delay in publishing the new targets was due to the large number of very detailed responses received during the consultation and the need to consider "complex issues" with stakeholders and government departments.
"Part of this has included further work to assess the costs associated with reformulation and to finalise the impact assessment, which accompanied the consul-tation document," she said.