Food giants lobby for salt levels

Britain's largest food companies united to convince regulators to reduce tough targets for cutting the level of salt in their products, according to information obtained by The Times.

Household names were prominent in campaigning for a gentler approach by the Food Standards Agency, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Waitrose and NestlĂ© were some of the powerful players who pushed hard to persuade the FSA to adopt less demanding goals, the papers reveal. Tesco suggested softer targets for crisps, biscuits, vegetarian products, muffins and coated poultry, citing problems of “customer acceptance”.

NestlĂ©'s lobbying included the following statement: “Reduction in salt levels, even by a very small amount, significantly increases the overall cost of manufacturing the product, mainly because the ingredients used for the replacement of salt are much more expensive, eg, herbs or meat extracts. These costs will inevitably be passed on to consumers (including schools).”

How salt campaign was scuppered (The Times, 3 August 2006)