THE RESTAURANT chains took a bit of a battering last week in a new report by Which?, but there was good news this week with Charlton House announcing the first results of its salt reduction programme.
In 2011, the caterer removed 602kg of salt from meals served in the workplace. This is the first demonstration of meeting its salt reduction pledge to the Governments Public Health Responsibility Deal. Meeting the target within the pledge will, by the end of the year, result in a total salt reduction of nearly 1g per person per day compared to 2007 levels.
The salt reduction initiative was launched in 2011 under the businesss wider Wellbeingbeingwell healthy eating banner. It has promoted decreased salt use in three ways the salt added in preparation; the salt in products purchased; and in salt availability at the diners plate.
This included some salt reduction training hosted by Raymond Blanc for over 100 chefs which led to a 15% reduction in added salt. It recalibrated their salt taste buds, explained CEO Caroline Fry who is encouraging everyone from chefs to consumers to think before they pinch.
She added: We serve 40,000 meals daily to client employees, so [were] ideally placed to make a positive contribution to a healthier diet for [them]. We want everyone to think before they pinch. It is our ambition to educate customers about healthy eating in an interesting, enjoyable way; to introduce highly nutritional elements into the workplace diet; and to empower customers to make informed healthy eating choices. The first evidence of decreased salt use suggests that this approach is working.
The introduction of low salt versions of products such as baked beans and bouillon also reduced salt in these products by 39% and by 41% respectively. Diner-facing initiatives have also been effective with clients taking up use of lower salt alternatives, such as salt-free butter.
Katharine Jenner, Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) campaign director applauded the initiatives. She added: "[This] shows that both chefs and consumers alike can easily eat less salt, and although they won't notice a difference to the taste, they will notice a difference to their health. For every one gram reduction in the nations salt intake we can prevent 6,000 people dying prematurely from strokes, heart attacks and heart failure."
Earlier this month, a report by consumer group Which? claimed that the Governments Public Health Responsibility Deal has failed and was over-reliant on voluntary action. Salt reduction was one of the few areas where progress had been made, said Which?, but some big food brands were still yet make pledges under the voluntary deal. Other High Street chains were singled out for their lack of progress on providing calorie labelling.