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Ban salt call as men still eating twice daily limit

IRISH men are eating nearly twice as much salt is as good for them and women are eating 40pc more than they should.

Consumers are still adding too much salt to their meals as it can account for up to 30pc of their daily intake, a Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) seminar has been told.

People who want to cut down on salt should ban the salt cellar from the table and from the kitchen, said Dr Wayne Anderson of the FSAI.

"Lots of people add salt without even tasting the food, they'll add salt to a potato and then add butter containing more salt, but it only takes six weeks to retrain the palatte if you just stop adding it," he said.

Although industry has cut back on the amount of salt it adds to processed meals, consumption is still well above the daily limit of 6g a day.

Irish men eat an average of 11.1g per day and Irish women eat 8.5g, with pensioners also far exceeding their recommended intake. This is serious because high salt intake is associated with increased blood pressure which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Meat and fish are the major source of salt in the diet – especially cured and processed meats such as ham and sausages – followed by bread and rolls.

These two categories of food alone contribute over half the salt in the Irish diet.

FSAI chief executive Prof Alan Reilly said the FSAI had worked with industry to bring about substantial reductions in salt content, particularly in foods such as bread and cereals.

"It is therefore considered time for the food industry to drive its own programme of reformulation of all foods, with the FSAI maintaining its independent monitoring role and oversight," he said.

The Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) said the food industry was continuing to reformulate products on a scientific basis.

It intended to monitor the impact of this over the past five years and over the next five years to help inform future policy initiatives, said Shane Dempsey of IBEC's food division.

Irish Independent