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Calls for more action to cut salt

The food watchdog has said government targets over salt content of foods are "extremely ambitious and challenging" but some parts of the industry "can do more".

According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the UK is still leading the way in reducing salt content of foods, but its updated targets for 2012 will be difficult to meet.

It warned that the taste of some foods would be changed because of the lower targets and for products such as bread it will be impossible "until new, innovative technologies, processing techniques and ingredient solutions are developed".

Figures from the FSA show an average of 20,200 premature deaths could be prevented each year simply by reducing the daily salt intake to 6g.

It is estimated that the UK's average daily salt consumption stands at 8.6g per day, compared with 9.5g when the test was first done in 2001 and 9g in 2007.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: "Too much salt in your diet puts you at risk of high blood pressure, which makes you three times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.

"The new targets will make a real difference. I expect to see industry rise to this challenge to ensure consumers are able to make healthier choices."

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Food Standards Agency