Pubs and restaurants facing new salt reduction pledges under Responsibility Deal

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Health

Restaurant and pub operators will be asked to sign up to new pledges to reduce salt in their meals under the Government’s Responsibility Deal.

The pledges, which build on existing commitments around salt reduction, will initially include setting a maximum amount of salt per serving “for the most popular dishes”.

This is the first time caterers will be asked to meet targets based on the final served dish as it is eaten by the customer, the Department of Health said.

The “second phase” will involve review and, where appropriate, a “recalibration” of existing salt reduction targets from 2012, plus a new target for meat extracts (gravy, stock cubes, bouillon etc) that were not previously covered by the targets.

There will be a limited number of “essential” targets that all companies would be expected to work towards within a set time frame, plus business-specific targets from which individual businesses would select specific priority categories to work on.

“Businesses will be asked to meet these targets within a set period, from the date they choose to sign up to the target, and would be encouraged to build on the number of targets they commit to meeting over time,” the Department of Health said.

The first phase is expected to be finalised in March or April, and the second phase by the end of the year.

In addition, the Department of Health is to work with the British Hospitality Association to help develop basic training courses, aimed at chefs and others in the sector, to raise awareness of the health implications of consuming too much salt and what action can be taken to minimise the addition of salt to food.

A separate pledge in June will ask firms to make commitments and demonstrate how they are contributing to changing consumer behaviour. Examples might include promotion of lower salt products over their higher salt equivalents, specific incentives to chose healthier options such as price promotions, and making the healthy option the default on the menu.

Companies that have not yet signed up to the pledges will be encouraged to do so by being asked to meet 2012 targets within a specific time frame, such as two to three years. The target for 2012 was to achieve a further 15% reduction in salt intake from the 2010 target.

Operators to sign salt reduction pledges so far include Mitchells & Butlers, PizzaExpress, YO! Sushi, Young’s and Pret A Manger.

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