After a survey of 28 food categories, the organisation claimed only one – bread rolls – was on track to meet Public Health England’s (PHE’s) 2017 salt reduction targets.
The survey also compared the salt content between ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ food using data from the major supermarkets.
It found similar products could have widely varying levels of salt in them. One example it gave was Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Nuts & Caramel Bites (1.13g of salt per 100g), which it claimed, had 97% more salt than similar cereal Jordans Country Crisp with Sun-Ripe Strawberries (0.03g of salt per 100g).
Campaign director for CASH Katharine Jenner said: The findings from our shopping basket survey are alarming and we are shocked to see that many food manufacturers and retailers are still failing to meet the salt reduction targets, despite having had years to work towards them.
‘More responsible manufacturers’
“We congratulate the other, more responsible manufacturers that have successfully achieved them, or are on track to meet them by the end of the year – which shows it is possible. With only nine months to go, action must be taken now.”
However, the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF’s) director of corporate affairs Tim Rycroft said its members have been working hard to reduce salt in their products.
“Far from sitting back, food producers have continued to invest heavily to adapt the recipes of some of Britain's biggest and best-loved brands to voluntarily reduce levels of salt in their products, without compromising on taste, quality or safety,” he said.
“As the work has progressed, many companies are finding reductions harder to achieve without compromising product safety or jeopardising taste, texture or shelf-life. Increased funding for pre-competitive research would help companies overcome shared barriers to further salt reductions.”
FDF members reduced the salt in their products by an average of 8% under the government's Responsibility Deal, claimed Rycroft. Voluntary action by companies had helped to reduce adult intakes of salt by 15% between 2001 and 2011.
“In addition to salt, UK food and drink producers continue to look for and develop opportunities to reduce calories, sugars and fats, while boosting fibre and micronutrients to contribute to an overall holistic approach to public health,” Rycroft added.
“Most ingredients in a food perform a wide range of functions, and go well beyond adding flavour, such as providing texture or shelf-life.”
PHE recommends adult intake no more than 6g of salt in a day. Targets to reduce the salt in 28 food categories were set by the Department of Health, with PHE taking over responsibility.