In the wake of the publication of the government’s Responsibility Deal, which outlined food manufacturers’ commitments to reducing salt levels in bread, Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) is pressing for even more stringent salt reduction targets for 2014.

Kingsmill, Warburtons and Hovis pledged cuts to 0.4g sodium (1g salt) per 100g of bread by 2012, but influential lobby group CASH wants new targets of below 0.3g sodium.

“It was a major objective to get the food industry to sign up to the Responsibility Deal. I don’t think we wanted to worry them about something happening in 2014,” said Professor Graham MacGregor, founder of CASH. “We’d like to see more severe targets for salt now to give the food industry time to prepare.”

Public health minister Anne Milton pledged her support to salt reduction, as CASH launched its latest campaign this week, targeting out-of-home foods. But she acknowledged the UK’s success in reducing people’s daily input by 1g to 8.6g. “It isn’t easy to reduce salt in some products, but it is possible,” she said.

MacGregor expressed “irritation” at the suggestion bakers would likely resist further cuts beyond 2012 targets, insisting additional cuts were needed to meet the government’s ‘6g of salt a day’ advice. He said: “We were told 10 years ago that they had reached the technical limit and they’ve reduced salt by another 30%. Bread is the major source of salt in the UK.”

A recent Australian study suggested bread contributed only 13% of salt to the diet, not the 20% used by the Food Standards Agency. Federation of Bakers director Gordon Polson said: “There is an issue around the contribution statistic bread makes to salt in the diet. We have to await the urinary analysis that the

Department of Health is meant to be doing this year, but we think it’s closer to that [13%] figure.”
Volumes of own-label wrapped bread, where sodium has been driven harder than on the brands, fell 13% in the last year compared with a 6.1% rise for branded bread (Kantar Worldpanel, 52 w/e 20.02.11).

Anthony Kindred of Kindred Bakery, who worked alongside the Food Standards Agency and National Association of Master Bakers to reduce salt in craft bread said: “If salt had to be reduced any more, consumers wouldn’t buy it – you may as well take it out altogether.”

>>Bakery manufacturers commit to Responsibility Deal