What is Salt?
Salt is made up of sodium and chloride. Our bodies need a small amount of sodium to help fluid balance and for nerve and muscle function. Salt is found in most foods but 75% of the salt that we eat comes from processed foods e.g. ready meals, breakfast cereals, soups and sauces. It is too much sodium that is bad for health.
Why Worry About Salt?
On average we´re eating 8.1g of salt a day, which is over 35% more than we should. There is strong scientific evidence linking high salt intakes with high blood pressure. People suffering from high blood pressure are almost 3 times as likely to suffer from heart disease or a stroke.
High salt intakes have also been associated with an increased risk of other diseases such as osteoporosis and stomach cancer. They may also aggravate asthma.
The table below shows the government recommendations for salt for adults and children. These figures are the maximum amount of salt that we should be eating each day.
How to Reduce Your Salt Intake
- don´t add it to foods at the table as around 20% of the salt we consume is added in the home
- don´t add it when cooking – use fresh, frozen or dried herbs or spices e.g. chilli, garlic, pepper and vinegar to flavour your food
- avoid stock cubes, gravy granules and soy sauce
- check food labels to see how much salt they contribute to your Guideline Daily Amount (GDA)
- choose more foods labelled green 'low' in salt on the front of pack nutrition panel
- choose foods with no added salt in the ingredients list or those which are reduced or low in salt
- if you have to add salt, switch to a low sodium salt
How we can help...
- We´ve been reducing salt for a while – salt reduction isn´t new to M&S, we´ve been working to reduce the salt in our foods since 1998. Over this time we have made significant reductions such as reducing the salt content of our bread range by 20%, our every day sliced meats by 33% and cakes by 17%
- Working towards Government targets – We have already achieved 57% of the Government's 2012 salt targets including those categories which are recognised as contributing a large percentage of salt to the diet such as bread, sandwiches, soups, breakfast cereals, crisps, snacks and many more
- Product development - our healthy eating ranges, Fuller Longer, Eat Well and count on us, are all developed to meet the government targets for salt and our kids´ ready meals all contain 1g of salt or less per portion; in fact, reducing salt has become a key part in the development of all our new foods, without compromising the quality, safety or taste
- Front of pack labelling- can help customers identify at a glance whether a food is high (red), medium (amber) or low (green) in salt. Our design also shows the percentage a serving contributes to your guideline daily amount (GDA).
- Back of pack labelling can help customers understand how much salt is in our foods we label both the sodium and salt content (‘salt equivalent´) of our foods within the nutrition panel (you calculate the amount of salt in food by multiplying sodium by 2.5). We also provide the GDA for salt (6g a day for adults) of most foods and where space permits, we also show this as a percentage to help you see how much of your daily salt intake a serving of the food provides
For more information on salt, visit the Food Standards Agency website