safefood encourages consumers to shake the salt habit

Only 1/3 of consumers know they can reduce their salt intake by eating less processed food

October 5, 2009. safefood today launched a new campaign aimed at encouraging consumers to reduce their salt intake. The campaign entitled “Shake the Salt habit” is designed to raise awareness among consumers that our diets are still too high in salt and that the majority of dietary salt is from processed foods such as processed meats, sauces and bread. At present, dietary salt intake levels [2],[3] among adults on the island of Ireland are up to 66% more than the recommended daily amount of 6g per day as advocated by health professionals.

Recent research [4] conducted by safefood revealed that while 51% of consumers are aware that most of their salt intake is from processed foods, only 30% believe eating less of these foods is the most effective way to reduce salt intake. 48% of consumers also reported adding salt to their main evening meal.

Commenting on the campaign, Dr. Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health & Nutrition, safefood said “High dietary salt intake can have serious health consequences such as stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure. We are now living in a world where we have become used to high dietary salt and it is worrying that children are growing up accustomed to the taste of salty foods. I realise that industry has done much to reduce the salt levels in processed foods but we’re now at a bit of an impasse because we are at the stage where consumer demand for lower salt options hasn’t really changed”.

“We need to do our part by becoming more salt aware, choosing lower salt options and readjusting our tastebuds to accept lower amounts of salt, steps which can all help to ensure our salt intake is at a healthier level”, she continued.

The safefood salt campaign includes a programme involving workplace restaurants across the island of Ireland, offering patrons practical advice and food tips every week for six weeks on how to gradually reduce their salt intake. The workplace initiative is being launched with the support of the Irish Heart Foundation. Janis Morrissey, Dietitian, Irish Heart Foundation, said “Our salt intake can be significantly reduced by enjoying fresh vegetables, lean meat and home-cooked meals more often and keeping convenience ready-meals to a minimum. Using alternative seasonings such as black pepper, herbs, garlic and lemon juice can all add a good flavour to food are all practical ways of replacing the taste of salt. Having sauces served on the side can also help. Think and taste food before adding extra salt at the table”.

The safefood salt campaign comprises radio and outdoor advertising, with the outdoor advertising displaying everyday foods in their “true colour” to dramatise the levels of salt they can contain.

For more information on shaking the salt habit visit our salt calculator or call the safefood helpline on 1850 40 45 67.

- Ends -

For further information please contact

Susie Cunningham / Cliodhna Lamont,


Telephone: 01 669 0030 / 087 8505055 (Susie) and 087 9250874 (Cliodhna)

Email: and

Dermot Moriarty


Telephone: 01 448 0600 / mobile 086 381 1034


  1. safefood Safetrak 10 (safefood, Millward Brown Lansdowne November 2008)
  2. Republic of Ireland - the average intake of dietary salt by adults is 10g/d. (Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Salt and Health 2005)
  3. Northern Ireland – the average daily salt intake by adults is 8.6g (Food Standard Agency UK Urinary Salt Study 2007)
  4. safefood Safetrak 10 (safefood, Millward Brown Lansdowne November 2008)

Editors Notes

  • Consumers can estimate the salt content of food by multiplying the sodium content on the food label by 2.5.
  • Foods high in salt contain more than 0.5g of sodium or 1.3g of salt per 100g. These include cured and processed meat products, soups and sauces and savoury snacks.
  • 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.
  • Salt consumption by food group/category
Food/ Food Category g/day % total
Meat and Fish 0.97 29.8
Cured/processed meats 0.67 20.5
Meat/meat dishes 0.23 6.9
Fish/fish dishes 0.08 2.4
Bread & rolls 0.84 25.9
Milk and milk products 0.27 8.5
Cheese 0.12 3.5
Soups, sauces and miscellaneous foods 0.23 7.0
Spreading fats 0.19 5.9
Biscuits/cakes/pasteries/confectionary 0.15 4.5
Breakfast cereals 0.14 4.2
Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals 0.13 4.1
Other trace 0.1
Vegetables/processed vegetables 0.13 4.0
Processed vegetables/vegetable dishes 0.04 1.1
Savouries (e.g. pizza, mixed pasta dishes) 0.095 2.9
Egg/ egg dishes 0.049 1.5
Desserts 0.035 1.1
Other foods 0.15 4.7
Total 3.25 100.00

North/South Ireland Food Consumption Survey (IUNA, 2001) for Republic of Ireland only (n=776), excluding under-reporters by the method of Black (2000)