The latest Government salt reduction targets set by Public Health England (PHE), suggest that the food industry has achieved “mixed progress”, with just over half of all average salt reduction targets met so far.

However, for manufacturers and retailers combined, all average targets were met for nine product categories including breakfast cereals, baked beans and pizzas, whereas meat products did not meet any average targets with 43% of products with salt levels above maximum target.

In five out of 11 categories set for the ‘out of home’ sector (breaded/battered chicken, pizza, children’s main meals, beef/chicken/roast main meals and sandwiches) at least 75% of products had salt levels below the maximum per serving target.

Burgers in a bun and pasta meals had about half of products with salt levels above maximum targets (50% and 48% respectively).

Overall, 71% of products had salt levels at or below their maximum per serving target.

Kate Halliwell, FDF head of UK Diet and Health Policy said: “This report shows the good progress manufacturers have made under the ambitious salt reduction programme, with almost three quarters of foods falling below the maximum salt targets.

“FDF members have led the way in reducing salt in food. Voluntary action helped to reduce adult intakes by 11% between 2005/6 and 2014. And during the lifetime of the latest salt targets (2012 to 2017) our members have reduced salt by a further 11.4%, continuing to build on more than 15 years of steady reformulation work. This has been done without compromising on taste, quality or safety.

“Most ingredients in food perform a wide range of functions, and go well beyond adding flavour, such as providing texture or shelf-life. This means taking anything out of food (through reformulation), be it salt, sugar or calories, is not straightforward.

“Nevertheless, we recognise there is more to be done and manufacturers remain committed to the government’s various reformulation programmes.”

PHE said “clear progress” had been made since work began to reduce salt intakes in 2004 but that further “realistic but ambitious goals” were needed.

Average salt consumption for adults in 2014 was 8g per day, compared with the recommended 6g per day.

PHE expects to publish an assessment of current salt intakes for adults in England by early 2020.

To read the full report, click here.