Fosters Bakery MD John Foster has pledged to support bakers in Barnsley after the "extremely negative" approach taken by Barnsley council in persuading bakers to reduce salt usage.

In a press statement, the Yorkshire town’s council said officers found 65% of the town’s bakeries using "worryingly high" levels of salt in their bread. Regulatory officers had tested bakeries of all sizes across the town, to check for compliance with the FSA’s 2010 salt targets.

The story was picked up by South Yorkshire newspaper The Star, which said the council planned to publish the results of bread sample tests.

Foster said: "The article was extremely negative. We know what our levels are and we’re not one of the high ones, but my heart goes out to the smaller bakers, I really feel for them. There seems to be a school of thought that bakers just add salt by pressing a button, but it’s more complicated than that."

He added: "We’re planning to approach other bakers in the town, in partnership with the council, to arrange a breakfast meeting to share our salt reduction expertise.

"We’re going to deal with this on a positive and proactive basis, so that, in a way, their threat to name and shame has done the trick."

Foster admitted his motivation wasn’t entirely altruistic - if there are local differences in salt usage, customers are more likely to buy higher-salt products, he said.

Councillor Roy Miller, cabinet spokesman for customer and neighbourhood services, said the council had no immediate plans to publish lists of results, but did not rule the idea out. He said: "At this stage, the council is not proposing to produce a list - we are working with and advising all producers of the advisory salt levels for 2010."

Barnsley council has sent bakers letters detailing their individual results, along with information on salt and health.

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