Reducing salt in processed foods might prevent 20,000 premature deaths a year but would not be easy, according to the Food Standards Agency.
It reports that the latest estimates put average UK daily salt consumption at 8.6g, compared with 9.5g when the test was first done in 2001, and 9g in 2007.
However, the food industry claims that the government target of 6g is a ‘relatively simplistic approach to driving progress’ and will be impossible to achieve.
It also says that for bread - which accounts for a fifth of the UK’s salt intake - it would depend on innovative technologies processing techniques and ingredient solutions being developed.
The FSA admits that although its target for 2012 is ‘extremely ambitious and challenging’, there is ‘clearly scope for some parts of the industry to do more’ as the UK leads the way in reducing salt content of foods.
Public health minister Dawn Primarolo said: ‘The new targets will make a real difference. I expect to see the industry rise to this challenge to ensure consumers are able to make healthier choices.’