I nearly choked on my toast the other day, while reading my newspaper at the breakfast table. For there, in print, was Professor Graham MacGregor, of pressure group Consensus Action on Salt and Health, praising our industry. "The UK is leading the world on salt reduction. Many of our food manufacturers should be congratulated on the effort they have made to reduce the amount of salt they add to our foods," he said.
He’s absolutely right. It constantly amazes me that we do not get the credit we deserve for what has been achieved in such a relatively short time. It also worries me that industry’s critics often refuse to recognise that there are very good reasons why salt is in food in the first place.They fail to accept that, whenever we start reformulating a product, we have to ensure it’s done in a way that is safe, technically possible and does not turn off consumers.
Yet MacGregor’s comments, at the start of the tenth Salt Awareness Week, came with a sting in the tail: while two-thirds of products contain lower salt than a decade ago, the rest don’t and should be boycotted, he said. "Any bread that contains more than 1.25g of salt per 100g should be boycotted, as lower salt alternatives exist," he said. (See also BB, 2 February, pg 8.)
Deeply frustrating, I know, particularly for a sector that has often pushed back technical limits to achieve a 25% reduction in sodium since the late 1980s. On the plus side, we are making progress with even our fiercest critics.