More taste, less salt
We are making our products even more delicious but with less salt.
How much is too much?
Most people agree that salt makes food taste better. It also plays an important role in preserving food. Small amounts of salt (sodium) in the diet are essential, but too much can lead to raised blood pressure. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one in five adults has blood pressure that is too high. This leads to increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
The WHO recommends a daily intake of no more than 5g of salt. But around the world the average person eats 9–12g a day, roughly twice the recommended amount. In Europe and North America, approximately 75% of salt intake comes from processed foods. And in developing countries, much of the salt consumed is added during cooking or at the table.
We support the recommendation of WHO. That’s why our salt reduction position (PDF | 166KB) sets out our pledge that by 2020, 75% of our food will meet salt levels that enable intakes of 5g per day. In 2018, 66% of our Foods portfolio was compliant with the 5g target.
We reduce salt every time one of our existing products is renovated. New products must also meet the target to enable a salt intake of 5g per day. We improve our foods based on scientifically sound benchmarks (PDF - 920kB) and reduce salt levels in a number of ways. In 2018, we made good progress in lowering salt across a broad range of products and markets.
Promoting alternatives to salt
We’ve found that cutting salt and replacing it with aromas, spices and herbs can actually enhance the salty taste and flavour, and make products more nutritious. This can be combined with using the natural salt replacer, potassium salt. However, not every country allows the use of potassium salt as an alternative to salt. That is why we advocate for ‘potassium salt’ to lower salt.
Advocating for potassium salt to lower salt
We’ve found that natural alternatives to sodium, like potassium salt (potassium chloride) can help us reduce sodium in our products, while maintaining the delicious taste that people expect.
Potassium occurs naturally in milk, fruit, vegetables and grains, and increased intakes of potassium are encouraged in dietary guidelines. This is reflected in a review we published several years ago which found that replacing sodium with potassium would significantly increase potassium intakes towards recommended daily amounts, without exceeding safety guidelines.
However, not every country allows use of potassium salt in food products as an alternative to salt. We’re calling for the use of potassium chloride to be permitted as salt substitutes in food products globally. And we want to establish ‘potassium salt’ as the accepted name for clean and consumer friendly labelling purposes.
We’ve been involved in advocacy efforts around the world, which have resulted in potassium salt being permitted for use in foods in most countries. We continue our advocacy efforts in Morocco, Argentina, Israel, Norway, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the UK. And on labelling, we’re raising awareness in the US, EU and GCC.