Policy Position

FDF is committed to working with the Department of Health (DH) on product reformulation and FDF members have been working towards the 2012 (and more recently the 2017) Responsibility Deal (RD) salt targets. However, changes can only be made gradually to maintain consumer acceptability and allow for the limits of technology and microbial safety. Reformulation of products must be technically feasible and safe, and their taste must remain acceptable to consumers.

Food manufacturers have invested heavily over many years to change the recipes of some of Britain's biggest and best-loved brands so they are lower in salt – without making any compromises on taste, quality or safety. By deploying its research capabilities in this way, the UK is now widely acknowledged to be leading the world on salt reformulation. As well as these efforts, companies also provide a wide range of low-salt alternatives. Much of the salt reduction has been taken forward in key sectors such as bread, biscuits and cakes, breakfast cereals, soups & sauces, crisps and savoury snacks.


DH is working with manufacturers, retailers and caterers to secure voluntary reductions in salt, and is striving to reduce the average population salt intake to 6g/day. The Public Health Responsibility Deal, published on 15 March 2011, contains several pledges committing companies to the RD salt targets, including the new F9 and F10 pledges launched this year. Many FDF members have signed up to the salt pledges relevant to their current situation, which includes several companies committing to new 2017 salt pledges with a view of bringing salt intakes down to no more than 6g of salt per person per day.

History of salt target development under the Food Standards Agency (FSA)

In March 2006, FSA published voluntary salt reduction targets to encourage a reduction in the amount of salt in a wide range of processed foods by 2010.

FSA later reviewed these targets using data purchased from Kantar, self-reported data from industry, independent expertise and information gathered via its processed food databank. The FSA 2010 targets were revised and 2012 targets were published in May 2009.

NB: The 2012 Responsibility Deal salt targets are the same as those published by FSA with the exception of revised targets for breakfast cereals.

During development of the targets, some sectors argued that they did not make a significant contribution to sodium intake. However, FSA stressed that a little action across all categories would add up to significant changes in the diet, and that there are many categories which only contribute a small percentage to salt intake.

Tracking population sodium / salt consumption

Analysis of urinary sodium over a 24-hour period is thought to be the most accurate method of estimating salt intake.

In June 2012, DH published the results of its latest urinary sodium analysis which indicated that the downward trend in average salt intakes amongst adults in England is continuing. Average intakes were 8.1g per day in 2011, which was a decrease of 0.5g/day since the last survey in 2008 and a reduction of 1.4g since the first analysis in 2000/2001. DH has indicated that another urinary sodium survey of adults will be carried out in 2014 and will be reported in spring 2015.

In addition, the most recent National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) released by Public Health England (PHE) in May 2014 included estimated salt intakes from urinary sodium for children and older adults, for the first time. It showed that children’s salt intakes exceeded SACN recommendations for each age group (except the 7-10yrs girl subgroup). For more details you can read the report here.


Last reviewed: 17 Dec 2016