Effects of reducing salt in processed food on the population's salt intake - the salt model
Wednesday 2 February 2005
The Food Standards Agency has developed a model to look at the effects of reducing the average salt content of different food groups on the population's salt intake.
The aim of the salt model is to inform the Agency's work on salt reduction including discussions with food manufacturers on reducing the salt content of processed foods, which account for about 75% of the salt in our diets.
The model is based on information about what people eat and the current salt content of food, weighted to account for the various amounts we eat of different foods.
To illustrate how the model works, reductions have been made in the salt content of various food groups that would bring consumption down to the recommended level.
The model also assumes a reduction in the amount of salt that people add to food themselves. This combination of reductions in salt content is just one way that the target could be achieved.
In 2002 the independent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) published a report that found increasing evidence for the link between high levels of salt in the diet and high blood pressure.
Evidence shows that people with high blood pressure are three times more likely to develop heart disease and stroke. In England, high blood pressure contributes to more than 170,000 deaths and, in Scotland, well over 22,000 deaths a year.
Following the SACN report, the Agency published guidelines on salt consumption, for the first time including levels for children.
The daily adult salt target is 6 grams a day, but in fact at the time the model was published we were consuming about 9.5 grams a day.
The original FSA salt model was published and put out for public consultation in October 2003. Comments received then, and subsequently in meetings and other communications with a range of organisations, including those within the food industry, have led to some changes being made to the model.
You can find the revised model at the link below
The main change has resulted in the separation of a number of processed and unprocessed products, including meat, potato and vegetable products.
It is important to note that the target average levels have not changed, except where targets have been set for new categories.
For example, eggs and egg dishes were previously in just 1 category in the salt model, with an average target level of 200mg sodium per 100g.
These products are now split into 3 separate categories: homemade egg-based dishes with an average target level of 259mg sodium per 100g; quiche (manufactured only) at 250mg sodium per 100g; and other processed egg products (including scotch eggs and meringues) at 300mg sodium per 100g.
The background to the set up of the original model - and the guidance notes on how the model was devised, which remain valid and applicable to the revised model - can be accessed via the link to the consultation below.