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Industry slams government’s Salt Strategy

On the day the Department of Health launches a new Salt Strategy designed to reduce consumers’ daily intake, representatives from the fish and chip industry have defended their practices, claiming their food contains low levels of salt in comparison to other takeaways.

Stelios Theocharous, MD at nutritional analyst Fish & Chips Test, hit back in support of the nutritional value of fish and chips and at the lengths the industry goes to to reduce salt intake. He told “At point of service there is very little salt in fish and chips. On average there’s about 300mg in a serving of fish, chips and peas.

“The most important point to remember in our defence is that we give customers the choice to add salt and vinegar, where as ready meals, national pizza companies, Chinese and Indian food add it all to their products and customers cannot ask for less salt.

“Some fish and chip shops have introduced salt pot lids with fewer holes. How many other food companies or food sectors have tried to reduce salt? Only our industry really.”

Lesley Graves, who owns Burton Road Chippy in Lincoln, echoes Stelios’s statement, saying: “Food labeled as a red traffic light in supermarkets have a salt content of 2.4g. I'm amazed that fish and chip shops are, again, asked what they will do to lower salt content in their food. Surely the government is looking at the wrong industry? Our customers get to choose if they want salt and if so how much, it's not hidden or added without the customer’s knowledge. We even offer a 'low salt' option to our customers.”

The announcement of the new Salt Strategy follows research that suggests more than half the public (53 per cent) rarely or never considers the amount of salt when buying food, despite more than four in five people (86 per cent) knowing too much salt is bad for their health.

In a bid to help people reduce their daily intake from an average of 8.1g a day towards the 6g a day goal, The Department of Health will be:

-  Revising the 2012 salt targets for industry by the end of the year to encourage companies to reformulate recipes

- Pushing the catering and takeaway sector to do more – by setting new maximum targets for the most popular dishes such as sandwiches and chips

- Asking companies to help people choose lower salt options – through promotional and other activities

- Getting more companies across the food industry sign up to salt reduction

Public Health Minister Anna Soubry said: “Today our typical shopping basket contains much less salt than it did 10 years ago but more needs to be done to help lower these levels even further.”

The news comes the day after Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) released a survey which found 347 meals served in high street and celebrity restaurants, fast food and cafes chains had more than 2.4g of salt per portion, which would earn them a red traffic light label for salt content.