Council leaders have urged restaurants, pubs and takeaways to follow the lead of local authorities in cracking down on high salt levels in food.
To mark the beginning of National Salt Awareness Week, the Local Government Association (LGA) has highlighted work carried out by councils to tackle the issue.
They include Heart of Derbyshire, a scheme developed by the county council and due to launch this September, which is encouraging healthier food choices.
Research by Gateshead Council found some takeaways use flour shakers rather then salt cellars to dispense salt, resulting in much higher quantities being used. Its work resulted in specially manufactured salt shakers being produced and distributed to local outlets. And a project in Liverpool funded by public health and run by trading standards has seen takeaways and restaurants reduce the amount of salt used in food.
LGA community and wellbeing spokesperson, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said: ‘Too much salt can kill, and thousands of deaths from salt-related health issues like high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks could be saved, if we took action to reduce our salt consumption, along with hundreds of millions of pounds to the public health purse.
‘Reducing salt intake by just 1g will mean more than 4,000 fewer deaths and a saving of nearly £290m each year.
‘But while industry has made progress in salt reduction, some restaurant and pub chains are still lagging behind, and need to make firm commitments to cut the amount of salt they are putting in meals. The recommended daily allowance is one teaspoon of salt a day (6g) yet this can be easily exceeded when we eat out.
‘Councils across the country, who are responsible for public health, have been working hard to bring salt levels down through innovative initiatives, which include setting up projects to work with restaurants, takeaways and fish and chip shops.
‘But this won't solve the problem alone. Big restaurant, pub and fast food chains need to commit to cutting salt, and help save lives.’