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We're losing battle to cut out salt

A target to cut the amount of salt used by Irish people to 6gm a day by this year has been extended for another two years.

New measures to limit salt intake are also expected to be recommended in the report of the Cardiovascular Health Policy, which the Department of Health says is "being finalised at present".

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has admitted people are still consuming almost 50pc above the target.

Health Minister Mary Harney says the figure could be up to 20pc higher when salt added in cooking and at the table is taken into account.

She has now announced that the salt reduction programme has been extended to 2012 -- this new deadline includes 17 EU member states in addition to Ireland and Britain.

Ms Harney also says the report of the Cardiovascular Health Policy group, due out shortly, is expected to recommend that all pre-packed foods carry labels with the salt content and that a public awareness campaign be launched.The labels would be in line with planned EU food labelling legislation for the food retail sector.

Ms Harney has told TD Andrew Doyle that the 2012 target will be for a 16pc reduction in salt in certain food categories.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has admitted it will not reach an EU target of 6gms of salt per person per day.

Ms Harney told Mr Doyle that our salt intake is "considerably above the recommended level" at up to 8gm a day.

This excluded any salt added during cooking and at the table.