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LGA - Take action on salt to save lives, councils tell industry

Cllr Izzi Seccombe LGA Community and Wellbeing spokesperson, speaks ahead of National Salt Awareness Week (29 February to 6 March).

"Too much salt can kill, and thousands of deaths from salt-related health issues like high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks could be saved, if we took action to reduce our salt consumption, along with hundreds of millions of pounds to the public health purse.

"Reducing salt intake by just 1g will mean more than 4,000 fewer deaths and a saving of nearly £290 million each year.

"But while industry has made progress in salt reduction, some restaurant and pub chains are still lagging behind, and need to make firm commitments to cut the amount of salt they are putting in meals. The recommended daily allowance is one teaspoon of salt a day (6g) yet this can be easily exceeded when we eat out.

"Councils across the country, who are responsible for public health, have been working hard to bring salt levels down through innovative initiatives, which include setting up projects to work with restaurants, takeaways and fish and chip shops.

"But this won't solve the problem alone. Big restaurant, pub and fast food chains need to commit to cutting salt, and help save lives."

CASE STUDIES

Gateshead

Thanks to work by Gateshead Council, take-away shops across the country have started helping people reduce their salt intake. Research carried out by the council in 2005 discovered customers often ate huge quantities of salt with their fish and chips. In fact, sometimes over half their recommended daily allowance was being consumed in a single serving. Work by Environmental Health Officers found many takeaways were using flour shakers instead of salt cellars. Some had as many as 17 holes. So they asked a manufacturer to produce a salt shaker with five holes, which was distributed free of charge to takeaways across the area. The idea has subsequently been adopted across the country.

Liverpool

The Eatright Liverpool project aims to improve the long term health of people in the city by encouraging food outlets to cut the salt and fat levels in their meals. Liverpool has high levels of ill health related to diet with 36 per cent of the population aged 16 or over being overweight and 18 per cent obese. Research carried out by John Moores University into Chinese and Indian meals – the most popular takeaway meals in the city – found that cutting down on salt and fat could be done without significantly altering the taste. A pilot project, funded by Liverpool Public Health and managed by Trading Standards, has seen seven takeaways and restaurants successfully introduce healthier meals and another 30 are looking to join them. Their "before and after" meals are tested for salt and fat content and those who have made significant reductions receive certificates.

Derbyshire

Food businesses from restaurants and takeaways to pubs and cafes are being encouraged to promote healthier eating by becoming members of a new scheme called Heart of Derbyshire. Derbyshire County Council is developing our Heart of Derbyshire scheme which will officially launch to the public in September. The scheme will have a number of elements, all focusing on improving the health of people across Derbyshire through healthier food choices.

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • Reducing salt intake lowers blood pressure in just 4 weeks, which in turn reduces the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
  • Reducing population salt intakes by just 1g will prevent 4,147 deaths and save the NHS £288 million every year.
  • Reformulation efforts so far have proven successful in helping to reduce the population's intake by 15% since 2000/01 from 9.5g to 8.1g in 2011.
  • Public Health Responsibility Deal - Out of Home maximum per serving salt targets
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