THE GOVERNMENT wants us all to eat less salt. We average about 8.1g a day but the target is to cut it to 6g. There are a number of ways to achieve this. Reformulation is one. Look at any of the top food manufacturers in the UK and they will list how many tonnes of salt they've shifted from their products. However, many will argue that there’s only so low they can go.
In July last year, the British Retail Consortium and the Food and Drink Federation said that they can cut more salt from products, but it will take considerably more scientific development. "There's no reason for efforts on salt reduction to stand still in the meantime," said the BRC. "Other businesses which lag behind the best or haven't even committed to reducing salt need to catch up."
The FDF has also made a not-so-subtle hint to chivvy the small companies along. It told me recently it wants a "broadening reach" of the Responsibility Deal, and rather than more pledges it would like to see more small companies involved.
The government may be heading that way too. When launching a new "salt strategy" during this month’s salt awareness week, the public health minister, Anna Soubry, said the voluntary approach in the deal is working, but "to get the greatest impact, we need more companies pledging to reduce salt levels, particularly in the catering and takeaway sector". Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has also been encouraging more of the capital’s outlets to use the "Takeaways Toolkit" to promote healthier fast food and slow down the rise in obesity.
But I wonder whether it’s actually the small, nimble companies that are already showing the innovation that reformulation can't bring? Big corporates are notoriously wary of being Big Brother, but they might want to look at initiatives like that being run by Whitby's Quayside fish & chip shop this month to encourage its customers to "go Italian" and squeeze lemon and add tomato salad to their meal rather than salt and vinegar.