Bakers are set to face even stricter salt reduction targets as the government ramps up the pressure on the food industry.
The current target of 1g of salt per 100g of baked bread is likely to be replaced in 2014/15 by a new 0.8g per 100g target, with a maximum allowance of 0.9g per 100g, according to Anthony Kindred, president of the Craft Bakers’ Association (CBA).
The target for morning goods looks set to be 0.975g per 100g of baked product.
The suggested new targets follows a meeting earlier this month, at the Department of Health (DoH), with input from key bakery associations, including the Federation of Bakers (FoB), the CBA and Nabim, as well as the Food and Drink Federation and the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Kindred told British Baker that, as things stand, the revised targets are more or less “cast in stone”. He said the DoH had set the figure it wanted the industry to achieve, and it will now enter a period of consultation.
He said that while with the 2012 targets, the baking industry managed to negioate the targets to their advantage, he said technically the new targets “are doable”, and that it would be bakers who were using old machinery and production techniques that would struggle.
Kindred said the industry is only allowed to cite technical issues as reasons why the recommended targets could not be achieved, rather than any negative impact on taste. “It’s still voluntary and they are still guidelines,” said Kindred, adding that he thought legislation was imminent in the future.
Gordon Polson, director, FoB, said it was too early to assess whether they would be manageable targets for its members. He said: “One point we made was that the 2012 targets have not had a chance to bed down. Bodies such as the DoH and CASH suggest that on average 18% of the salt contribution in our diets is from bread.
“We don’t accept that the figure is that high. It could even be as low as 11-12%,” said Polson, who explained that these estimates were most likely based on the latest research available from The National Diet and Nutrition Survey, whose Assessment of Dietary Sodium report figures only go up to 2011.
“There are going to be targets, we just have to work out how we will deal with them,” added Polson.
A spokesperson for the BRC, said work on revising the 2012 targets started in June this year, with meetings regarding different food categories having taken place over the past two months, and more planned before the end of the year. She said the suggested targets at the meeting related to bakery “might not be the final suggested targets”.
“Based on feedback at the meeting and comments received after the meeting, the DoH was going to review these suggested draft targets.
“The DoH is currently considering how to cover and discuss targets for products not covered in the 10 meetings we have had - for example, cakes,” she added.
A spokesperson for the DoH confirmed: “No revised salt targets have been set yet as we are still in discussions with the food industry and health organisations – we are aiming to have these targets finalised by the end of the year.”
In March this year, British Baker reported that the government wanted the amount of salt consumers eat to be cut by a quarter, with new reduction targets looking likely as part of the Responsibility Deal’s new Salt Strategy.