Public Health England (PHE) has said the out-of-home eating sector has made clear progress in reducing the salt content of food, with 71% of products meeting targets set for 2017.
It analysed data from 35 national hospitality groups including Greene King, Nando’s, Compass and Casual Dining Group and found that businesses had made quantifiable reductions in the salt content of dishes since 2006, when targets were first set.
From 11 product categories analysed in the PHE Salt Targets 2017: Progress Report, none had all products below the target, but overall 71% of products had salt levels at or below their maximum per serving target.
The categories with the worst performance were burgers, seasoned fries and pasta dishes with only 25%, 40% and 48% respectively meeting the requirements.
Within the top sodium contributing sub-categories, the proportion of products with a salt content above maximum targets was nearly always higher for the out-of-home sector, than for in-home.
The targets are based on bringing the average person’s intake to six grams per day. It is currently eight grams a day.
Public Health Minister Steve Brine said: “While it is encouraging to see the food industry is making progress towards the salt reduction targets we set in 2014, we know there is more to do.
“That’s why we committed to further reducing salt intake in our prevention vision. Next year we will put forward realistic but ambitious goals and set out details of how we will meet them.”
Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, added: “Too much salt can lead to increased blood pressure which can cause heart disease and stroke – two of the biggest killers of adults in the UK – which is why government has set such stretching targets.
“While we have seen some progress, those that have taken little or no action cannot be excused for their inactivity. It is clear that, with the right leadership from industry, further salt reduction in foods continues to be possible.”
The government plans to set out next steps for salt reduction by Easter 2019, while PHE expects to publish an assessment of current salt intake for adults in England by early 2020.