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Dublin: 4°C Thursday 25 February 2021
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There is way less salt in your sausages these days

But we still eat more than the recommended 5g of salt per day.

Image: Shutterstock/south_juls

“SIGNIFICANT REDUCTIONS” IN levels of salt were found in Irish processed food during the latest tests undertaken by the Food Safety Authority (FSAI).

It has an annual salt monitoring programme which has been going since 2003. In 2015, the FSAI examined 530 samples of processed food across four food product categories, including processed meats, breads, breakfast cereals and spreadable fats.

Today, it said:

Significant reductions in salt content was observed across a variety of products, but most notably in processed meats such as rashers, cooked ham and sausages.

The foods it found reductions of salt in included:

Processed Meats

  • Rashers -27%
  • Cooked ham -15%
  • Sausage products -11%

Breads

  • White bread -17%
  • Wholemeal bread -25%
  • Wholegrain bread -29%
  • Specialty products -42%

Breakfast Cereals

  • Cornflake based -63%
  • Rice based -48%
  • Bran based -39%
  • Multigrain cereal -38%

Spreadable Fats

  • Blended spread (>62%, but <80% fat) -29%
  • All blends and blended spreads -27%

But according Dr Wayne Anderson, Director of Food Science and Standards, FSAI, although the salt in products are dropping, we’re still eating too much salt here in Ireland.

The average salt intake of Irish consumers still exceeds the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended 5g salt per day.

“The estimated average daily salt intake in Irish adults is currently 11.1g salt per/day in men and 8.5g salt per/day in women,” he pointed out.

We would ask consumers to read product labels for information on salt content and reduce the amount of salt they add themselves in cooking and at the table.

shutterstock_309730223 Source: Shutterstock/Syda Productions

Dr Anderson said that while salt plays an important role in the diet, people in Ireland are simply eating too much of it and this increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

“The addition of salt at the table or in cooking by consumers can represent up to 20%-30% of a person’s total salt intake,” he pointed out.

The FSAI wants people to make sure they’re reading product labels, choosing low salt or salt free options and cutting back on the high levels of salt added during cooking and at the table.

“If you are unsure about the level of salt you are consuming in any product please refer to the nutrition labelling Reference Intake (RI) which will give you the percentage of RI per portion of food,” explained Dr Anderson.

But the buck doesn’t stop with consumers. The FSAI said that it believes that the reformulation of foods must be driven by the industry.

“Overall we are satisfied with the latest salt reductions and this outlines Irish manufacturers’ commitment and positive contribution being made to tackle health issues. Going into the future, the industry needs to pursue further research and development to achieve further reductions where possible”, concluded Dr Anderson.

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