Salt – its role in meat products and the industry's action plan to reduce it


Mrs Maureen Strong, Nutrition and Meat Science Manager. The Meat and Livestock Commission, Winterhill House, Snowdon Drive, Milton Keynes, MK6 1AX, UK. E-mail:


Summary  The food industry is currently under pressure from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to deliver reductions in the salt intake of the population through the introduction of lower salt levels in processed foods (Gilbert & Heisler 2004 in same issue). Government research indicates that meat and meat products as a category are the second largest contributor to dietary salt after cereal products. This use of a combined category of ‘meat and meat products’ is misleading, as carcase meat is naturally low in sodium and therefore salt. Salt is added to meat products for a variety of technical reasons, including microbiological safety. There is evidence that consumers are confused about the difference between the terms ‘sodium’ and ‘salt’. Analysis of products for labelling purposes therefore requires careful consideration to ensure that misleading information is not presented. While the debate about the role of salt in blood pressure control will no doubt continue, the British meat industry has committed to reducing the salt, or more specifically sodium, content of its products. To this end an action plan for sodium reduction in meat products has been developed which focuses on those products with the highest sodium contents and encourages producers to seek opportunities to reduce the sodium content of all meat products.