People’s average salt intake in Ireland has fallen by 1.1g per day thanks to salt reduction measures from the food industry, with consumers now urged to do more.

The 2011 National Adult Nutrition Survey found that the mean daily salt intake in adults from food had decreased from 8.1g/day in 2001 to 7g/day in 2011, not including salt added during cooking or at the table.

Dr Wayne Anderson, director of food science and standards at the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), said 25-30% of total salt intake was discretionary and came from consumers adding salt to their food. "The 1.1g reduction is a substantial achievement and is the result of the food industry reformulating its products to reduce salt content. However, the efforts by industry have to be matched by each of us individually cutting back on the amount of salt we add to our food."

The findings will come as welcome news for UK bakers, who, like their Irish counterparts, have reduced salt levels in recent years. Research into salt intakes of UK consumers is due to take place next year.

Since the launch of the FSAI’s salt reduction programme in 2003, salt levels in white and wholemeal bread in Ireland have been reduced by up to 18% and 20% respectively. The Irish Bread Bakers Association (IBBA) said its members were on track to meet the FSAI’s target of 450mg of sodium per 100g of bread, but warned: "Salt is a critical ingredient in bread and the difficulties involved with continued reduction have a direct impact on bread manufacture, product quality, taste and consistency."

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