safefood research shows more consumers seeking salt content on food labels - NI

24 January, 2008. To mark National Salt Awareness Week (January 28th to February 3rd), safefood is reminding parents of ways to reduce the whole family’s salt intake as new research reveals more consumers are looking for salt content on food labels and salt is ranked number two on Northern Ireland’s list of healthy eating concerns(1).

Recent research conducted by safefood shows that 40% of consumers(1) now look for salt content when looking at food labels, compared with just 29% in 2004(3) and that 73% of adults(1) are concerned about healthy eating.

Commenting, Dr. Cliodhna Foley Nolan, Director of Human Health and Nutrition, safefood said “As most of the salt we consume is from processed and snack foods, it is encouraging that more consumers are looking for salt content when reading food labels and that more are concerned about healthy eating. This shows that our message is getting through to consumers and that there is increased awareness of the importance of healthy eating and the role that salt plays in diet, particularly for children”, she continued.

“We know that we have become accustomed to higher levels of salt in our diet and that it may take a little time, particularly for children to get used to lower levels of salt. By making small dietary changes such as cutting down on processed foods and getting children to eat more fruit and vegetables can  help with cutting down on salt and could make a big difference in the long run”, added Dr. Foley-Nolan.

There is clear evidence that a child’s diet high in salt can affect the development of diseases including high blood pressure, osteoporosis, respiratory illness, stomach cancer and obesity.  Research has shown that reducing children’s salt intake by half results in falls in blood pressure, which in turn could lead to major reductions in the risk of developing stroke, heart attacks and heart failure later in life (2).

National Salt Awareness Week 2008 will focus on Salt and Children.  The week will publicise that children should eat less salt than adults, highlight where the salt comes from in children's diets and provide practical information to parents and carers on how to reduce the level of salt their children eat.

For further information, including tips on how to reduce salt in your diet and recipes contact the safefood helpline on 0800 085 1683 or visit


For further information please contact

IAS SMARTS      safefood
Leanne McCarroll/Kathy Doyle  or   Fiona Gilligan
Tel: 028 9039 5500     Tel: 03531 4480600

Editors Notes

  • The Recommended Daily Salt intake is 4 grams per day for physiological requirements. Food intake surveys have shown that the average salt intake for adults is estimated at 10g per day. The Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland (FSA NI) estimates that 1 million people Northern Ireland consume over double the RDA. This figure is extrapolated from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey UK.
  • The Recommended Daily Salt intake for children is:
  •  2 grams for children aged 1 to 3
  •  3 grams for children aged 4 to 6
  •  5 grams for children aged 7 - 10


  1. safefood research (safetrak 9) October 2007 - 15% of consumers are concerned about salt as a healthy eating issue
  2. Consensus Action on Salt and Health
  3. safefood research (safetrak 3) June 2007