A leading anti-salt crusader has criticised the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) failure to support potassium-based alterna-tives to sodium chloride in food.

Speaking at the launch of National Salt Awareness Week at the House of Commons last week, Professor Graham MacGregor, founder of Consensus Action on Salt (CASH), criticised the FSA for its stance on scientific grounds. "Where there are problems for food manufacturers taking salt out, they could easily use potassium as a substitute. We are disappointed that the Food Standards Agency and the industry has not taken this up," he said.

Tesco own-label bread is one of few to currently use potassium. MacGregor claimed that the FSA should endorse potassium as an alternative option for industry. He told BB: "The dangers of adding potassium to food have been greatly exaggerated. But worldwide, it will become much more common."

He pointed to two studies one from the Netherlands showing that a salt substitute containing potassium chloride lowers blood pressure in older people, and a second from Taiwan indicating that changing salt to a mineral salt within two to three years caused a big reduction in total mortality and cardiovascular death.

British Baker challenged FSA chief executive Tim Smith over whether it would be willing to revisit the potassium issue. "We’re neutral-to-interested on the subject," he said. "The balance of evidence at the moment suggests that reducing sodium chloride content is the biggest and simplest step we can take.

"If the evidence can be marshalled that says substitutional products are better, then we would support that."