A fresh set of Responsibility Deal pledges on salt reduction, aimed at supporting the existing commitments made by caterers and manufacturers, has been announced by the Department of Health.
KFC, BaxterStorey and Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) are among the first to sign up to the new pledge on training and kitchen practice, which focuses on initiatives that will cut the salt intake of consumers.
The second pledge asks businesses to prioritise product reformulation efforts to maximise the total amount of salt removed from foods, while the third calls on businesses to buy ingredients and products that meet the Responsibility Deal 2012 targets.
The 2012 commitments focus on reformulation of products, which, according to Dr Susan Jebb, chair of the Responsibility Deal Food Network's high-level steering group, are working particularly well for manufacturers and retailers.
"But the model for the catering sector is very different because of its enormous diversity," she explained. "The new pledges give the out-of-home sector the opportunity to demonstrate its commitments with regards to salt."
Lexington Catering, which has signed up to pledge 1, has promised to cut salt use by 7% by 2013 and by 15% or more by 2014, while DC Leisure says it will train kitchen staff to adopt the practice of not adding salt to vegetables and boiled starchy carbohydrates.
While McDonald's, the biggest operator to sign up to the procurement pledge, said that this year it is working on reducing the salt content of its cheese. It has already halved the salt content of the average Happy Meal since 2000 and reduced salt in Chicken McNuggets by 36%.
A spokesperson for M&B, which has 16 brands, including Harvester and All Bar One, said: "M&B has signed up to two of the salt pledges for caterers and believes they have a role to play in helping reduce the population's salt intake by working with their suppliers, providing salt content information and adapting recipes and kitchen practices over time."
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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