As a nation we are eating too much salt. The daily recommended amount in the UK is no more than 6g each day. Currently the average salt intake is 8g, so most of us need to cut down our salt intake. Although our bodies need a small amount of salt to function properly, high salt intakes may increase the risk of a number of health conditions including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Stomach cancer
Much of the salt in our diet comes from manufactured foods such as bread, sauces, processed meats such as ham, bacon and sausage, cheese, gravy granules, some breakfast cereals, sandwiches, crisps and ready meals. Manufacturers are working hard to reduce the level of salt in many products, but we still need to be careful about the amount of salt in the foods we eat. Although much of the salt we eat is hidden in foods, there are still a number of ways we can cut down on salt in the food we serve to customers.
Where does the salt in our diet come from?
- Around 75% is already in the food we buy
- 15% occurs naturally in food
- 10% is added during cooking or at the table
Our taste buds take time to adapt and it may be necessary to cut down the amount of salt you use over a number of weeks, so that customers do not notice the reduction in salt. These are some tips that you can use your salt intake.
- Don’t add salt when cooking at home. You don’t need to add salt when cooking vegetables, rice and pasta. Steaming vegetables is a great way of bringing out the natural flavours.
- Spice it up. Use herbs and spices to add flavour and variety to dishes rather than seasoning with salt. Lemon juice is another great way of adding flavour.
- Be aware. Know which foods are high in salt and try to choose lower salt alternatives
- Read the label. Use food labels to work out how much salt is in a food. More than 1.5g of salt per 100g of a food is classed as being high in salt (the label may be colour-coded red). Low is 0.3g salt or less per 100g (the label may be colour-coded green) and medium is between 0.3g and 1.5g salt per 100g (the label may be colour-coded amber).
- Make the right choices. Try to choose lower salt and no added salt versions of foods when shopping.
- Saucy. Be careful of sauces like soy sauce, ketchup and brown sauce- they often have high levels of salt, so use these in moderation and be mindful of their salt content
- Stop! Avoid adding salt at the table. Many people add salt by habit without tasting the food first. It can take time for your taste buds to adapt, but cutting down on salt added at the table really helps keep salt intake under control.
- Salt, salt, salt. Be it sea salt, rock salt, table, cooking, coarse or fine, all salt has the same effect on your health.
- Avoid salt substitutes such as LoSalt. Although these products don’t contain sodium, they still make food taste ‘salty’ and therefore it is more difficult for people to adjust to lower levels of salt in food.
Elior’s Action On: Salt
Elior, Salt and the Responsibility Deal
Elior were early adopters of the government’s Responsibility Deal and signed up to several pledges to demonstrate our commitment to improving public health including reducing salt.
Our commitment to salt reduction includes:
- Procurement- working with our suppliers to ensure that, wherever possible, our products meet 2017 salt targets and any future revised targets
- Reducing or removing salt used in food preparation
- Modifying recipes to reduce the amount of salt, bouillon and salty foods such as cheese and smoked meats
- Full nutritional analysis of dishes- to quantify salt levels and prompt modification where necessary
Through these actions and the food industry working together salt intake has been reduced by 15% over the last 10 years.
This achievement has been described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as being “world leading”.