Today, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) published an update of its annual salt monitoring program, now in it’s 13th year.
This year’s program analyzed 530 samples of processed food including processed meats, breads, breakfast cereals and spreadable fats. The FSAI did find reduced levels of salt across all four food categories, particularly in cereal products, which appear to have the largest decreases in salt levels. Ireland's salt reduction levels were reported as follows:
- Rashers (bacon) -27%
- Cooked ham -15%
- Sausage products -11%
- White bread -17%
- Wholemeal bread -25%
- Wholegrain bread -29%
- Specialty products -42%
- Cornflake based -63%
- Rice based -48%
- Bran based -39%
- Multigrain cereal -38%
- Blended spread (>62%, but <80% fat) -29%
- All blends and blended spreads -27%
Despite less salt in the foods examined, the average salt intake of Irish consumers still exceeds the World Health Organization’s recommended 5 grams of salt per day, according to Wayne Anderson, FSAI’s director of food science and standards. Currently, Irish men eat 11.1 grams of salt per day while Irish women consume 8.5 grams per day.
“Salt plays an important role in the diet, but people in Ireland are simply eating too much of it and this increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. The addition of salt at the table or in cooking by consumers can represent up to 20 percent to 30 percent of a person’s total salt intake.” says Anderson. “If you are unsure about the level of salt you are consuming in any product please refer to the nutrition labelling Reference Intake (RI) which will give you the percentage of RI per portion of food.”
To combat high salt intake and the associated health risks, FSAI asks consumers to read product labels for information on salt content, and to reduce the amount of salt they add in their cooking and food seasoning.
The FSAI believes that the reformulation of foods must be driven by the industry, with the FSAI continuing its independent monitoring of levels.
“Overall we are satisfied with the latest salt reductions and this outlines Irish manufacturers’ commitment and positive contribution being made to tackle health issues. Going into the future, the industry needs to pursue further research and development to achieve further reductions where possible,” says Anderson.
FDA and Salt in the American Diet: An Ongoing Saga