Frequently asked questions
Why is the focus of the project about salt and not other parts of people's diets?
Many residents and staff have asked us this. Many of those who have already come to workshops about salt reduction are interested in all aspects of diet, not just salt.
This project is funded as part of the Food Standards Agency's salt campaign. There is strong evidence that it is particularly important to reduce salt in people's diets.
Benefits of less salt
Most people in the UK eat too much salt. This means that most people would benefit from cutting down on the amount of salt they eat.
Cutting down on salt reduces blood pressure, whether or not your blood pressure is high to start with.
When your blood pressure goes down, your risk of developing heart disease and stroke goes down too, whatever your age.
If you have high blood pressure, cutting down on salt can help to lower your blood pressure in weeks.
You may start to notice a wider range of flavours in food, as your taste buds adjust to having less salt.
Cutting down on salt is only part of eating healthily. Eating a healthy diet that is high in fruit and vegetables, high in fibre, and low in salt and fat (especially saturated fat) can help to:
- reduce your blood pressure
- reduce your risk of heart disease
- reduce your risk of stroke
- reduce your risk of some types of cancer
Why doesn't the government get manufacturers to reduce the salt in their products?
About 75% of the salt we eat is already in the foods we buy, the majority in processed foods. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been working with the food industry to encourage reductions in the levels of salt in these foods.
According to the FSA, all sectors of the food industry - retailers, manufacturers, trade associations, caterers and suppliers to the catering industry - have responded positively to calls to reduce salt in foods and continue to be engaged in this programme.
The FSA now has commitments to reduce levels of salt in food from 70 organisations across all sectors of the industry and some considerable reductions have already been achieved. For full details see http://www.salt.gov.uk/.
The aim of the voluntary targets is to help guide the food industry as to the type of foods in which salt reductions are required, and the level of reduction needed to help progression towards the FSA's strategic plan target of reducing salt intakes to 6grams per day for an adult. The targets cover 85 categories of processed foods, including everyday foods such as bread, bacon, ham, breakfast cereals and cheese, and convenience foods such as pizza, ready meals, savoury snacks, cakes and pastries.
The FSA is now in the process of devising a self-reporting framework, which will be used to track progress by the food industry towards achieving the targets. The FSA will be reviewing the salt reduction targets in 2008 to establish what, if any, further reductions are necessary to reach the population average intake target of 6g.
Some organisations think the reduction targets should be tougher, and not voluntary. This would put more responsibility on the shoulders of the food industry.