Irish men still consume more than twice the daily recommended amount of salt despite a study finding significant reductions of sodium in processed foods, said the Food Safety Authority (FSAI).
Men here eat 11.1g of salt everyday, more than double the 5g recommended by the World Health Organisation, the FSAI estimates.
Irish women also eat too much salt, consuming an average of 8.5g daily according to the FSAI.
“Salt plays an important role in the diet, but people in Ireland are simply eating too much of it, increasing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases,” said FSAI director of food science and standards Wayne Anderson.
More than 500 samples of processed food such as meats, breads, cereals, and spreadable fats were examined as part of the study.
Processed meats such as rashers, cooked ham, and sausages were found to have significant reductions in salt when compared to previous years, although reductions were found across a range of products, according to the study.
A 27% reduction in salt was recorded in rashers when compared to 2003, the study found.
Cornflake-based cereals had a salt reduction of 63% since 2003, the study also found.
The salt content of speciality breads such as ciabatta, panini, or pitta was cut by 47% since 2003. A reduction of 29% was recorded in wholegrain bread.
To cut down on their salt intake, consumers should read food labels, select low or salt-free options, and cut back on adding salt to food, says the FSAI.
Adding salt at the table or during cooking can make up to 20%-30% of a person’s total salt intake.
“If you are unsure about the level of salt you are consuming in any product please refer to the nutrition information,” said Dr Anderson.
“The ‘Reference Intake’ will give you the recommended amount per portion of food.”
Although the results of this study are encouraging, the food industry must continue to drive the reformulation of foods, said the FSAI.
“The industry needs to pursue further research and development to achieve further reductions where possible,” said Dr Anderson.
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