The amount of salt consumed in Britain is nearly 50% higher than the recommended level, even though the figure has fallen over the last few years, according to research.
Tests on 692 adults showed their average salt intake was 8.6g per day compared to 9.5g when the first test was done in 2001 and 9g last year.
But consumption is still higher than the government's national target of 6g per day, the Food Standards Agency said.
The results follow an FSA campaign encouraging people to cut their salt intake, with warnings that about 75% of salt eaten is already in bought food.
The reduction in salt is the equivalent of 6,000 premature deaths saved, the FSA said.
The food watchdog's campaign follows a scientific report published in 2003 which said reducing salt intake would lower average blood pressure, which in turn would help cut heart disease.
Reducing the daily salt intake to 6g could prevent an average of 20,200 premature deaths a year, according to the agency.
The FSA also announced today that it was introducing tougher targets for many foods.
In 2006 the FSA set targets for the reduction of salt in 85 categories of processed foods.
It said that 80 of those now faced updated targets to be met by 2010 or 2012.
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