The Food Standards Agency is encouraging the catering sector to work alongside them in their campaign to reduce the nation`s salt intake to just 6g per day.
With the average person eating one in every six meals out of home, the FSA have stated they want to see restaurants and pubs doing more to ‘improve the nutritional content of food,’ despite a drop in the UK’s average daily salt intake from 9.5g to 8.6g since 2000.
Instead of publishing strict guidelines, the FSA is asking businesses to design their own healthy food commitments, focusing on the Agency’s objectives to reduce salt and saturated fat intakes.
A spokesman for the FSA said: “We recognise that what a given business can achieve depends on the style of food; the size of the business; employees’ skills; the way the kitchen operates; and – most importantly – what the clients and customers ask for. So we know that a `one size fits all` approach will not work.”
One such business, food distributor 3663, launched a ‘Positive Steps’ programme in 2005, offering both caterers and consumers the choice of healthier, more nutritious food. They have since reduced the salt content in hundreds of their products in order to meet the FSA’s guidelines.
Food eaten in restaurants and pubs are generally higher in salt and saturated fats than those cooked at home. According to the Agency’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey, men derive a quarter of their energy from foods eaten out of home, while women consume a fifth.
Scott Goss, Head Chef for The Swan gastropub in West Malling, Kent, sees salt as an important seasoning, but welcomes the FSA’s guidelines.
“With the significant rise in obesity and heart disease, I welcome any initiative that helps the industry think about healthy eating issues,” he said. “We add salt sparingly to 90 per cent of our savoury dishes and taste everything before it is served. The secret with salt is to make sure you are only adding very small amounts.”
For more information about the FSA’s favoured approach to healthy catering, click here.