Six weeks to change your taste buds to help improve your health

safefood target the workplace to help communicate importance of reducing salt intake in the diet

9 May 2006. safefood is today announcing the launch of an initiative aimed at encouraging patrons of workplace restaurants to reduce their salt intake. The six week challenge is a programme offering practical tips on how to gradually reduce salt intake in the time it takes your tastebuds to adjust to less salt.

Recent research conducted by safefood shows that people are concerned with the level of salt in their diet. 57% of people on the island of Ireland say they are concerned about salt as a healthy eating matter with 79% of this group stating that their eating habits had been affected by these concerns3.

Commenting on the initiative, Dr. Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Chief Public Health Specialist, safefood, said, “High dietary salt intake is associated with high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to heart disease and stroke. With this in mind, ‘Six Weeks to Change your Tastebuds’ was developed to make it easier for people to reduce their salt intake and become healthier. As well as providing practical tips to help break old habits, the initiative provides information and encouragement to help people make informed decisions for themselves. The campaign is not just about workplace habits, it is about adopting healthy eating choices across your life and ultimately improving your health.”

She continued, “Salt levels in processed foods provide the biggest challenge, as often people are not aware or just do not read the level of salt on the label. We are not saying cut salt out of your diet altogether, but instead be conscious of your daily intake of salt and make sure it is at a healthy level.”

The safefood programme offers practical advice to help patrons of workplace restaurants gradually reduce their salt intake down to a healthy limit over the six week period. These practical steps include flavouring with pepper instead of adding salt, choosing fresh meat, fish and vegetables over processed foods where possible, and cutting back on salty meats such as bacon, gammon and ham. The campaign is being launched with the support of the Irish Heart Foundation and the Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke Association.

safefoodmarket research further uncovered how people establish the salt content of packaged foods. 30% go by the taste of the food, 39% don’t bother looking at the salt content and 21% read the label. Although, the highest source of salt in the diet comes from processed foods, 44% of people on the Island of Ireland believe that the most effective way to cut down on salt is to add less salt to meals when eating. Only 29% thought they should eat less processed foods such as ready meals and 26% said that the most effective way to cut down on salt was to add less when cooking.

safefood are committed to improving public knowledge towards the dangers of hidden salt in processed foods and the need to reduce salt in the diet in general, whether in the home or workplace. There are alternative seasonings which can be used such as black pepper, herbs, garlic, and lemon juice, which all add a zest and flavour to food, which can replace the taste of salt. safefood, in conjunction with the Irish Heart Foundation and Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke Association, have produced a leaflet, How much salt is good for you, which provides a clear outline on how to manage salt intake The message is clear, reduce your salt intake and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease,” continued Dr. Foley Nolan.

The leaflet is available from the safefood helpline 1850 404 567 / 0800 085 1683 or at www.safefoodonline.com. 

Ends

For further information please contact

safefood

Fiona Gilligan

Tel: (01) 4480600

WHPR

Andrew Hyland / Niamh Burdett or

Tel: 01 6690030 087 9088 322 (Andrew)

Editors Notes

  • Younger children are particularly at risk from excessive salt levels in their diet and should eat less than adults. Salt should not be added to toddlers’ food.
  • Reading food labels can inform the consumer about the level of salt in a product and allow them to compare products to make the lower salt choice.
  • By multiplying the sodium content on the food label by 2.5, the consumer can calculate the amount of salt in the food.
  • Foods high in salt contain more than 0.5g of sodium or 1.3g of salt. These include cured and processed meat products, soups and sauces and savoury snacks.
  • A salt calculator can be found on www.safefoodonline.com which helps consumers work out how much salt is in specified amounts of food.

References

  1. The Recommended Daily Allowance of salt for adults is 4g per day. Food intake surveys have shown that the average intake of adults is 10g.
  2. 6g is the amount recommended by the FSAI as an achievable target for the adult Irish population, in a recent report ‘Salt and Health: Review of the Scientific Evidence and Recommendations for Public Policy in Ireland’.
  3. Figures are taken from safetrak 6, market research conducted by Amarach on behalf of safefood in March 2006.