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Putting the roles of salt in the right perspective: European Salt Industry issues information leaflet aiming at better understanding of salt consumption and its relationship to health.


26 Mar 2009


Health & Consumers

Brussels, 26 March 2009 – In the margin of the current political debates on consumer information, salt reduction, nutrient profiles and dietary choices, EuSalt* issues a brand new information brochure “salt & health” putting salt and its relationship to health in an objective and correct perspective. The new leaflet focuses on various aspects of salt’s vital role in life: as a source of life-essential nutrients, as a key ingredient in food manufacturing, and as a means improving public health, especially as a carrier of nutrients in the battle against iodine deficiency and tooth decay. Salt as a source of life-essential nutrients Salt supplies humans with sodium and chloride, two nutrients without which the human body cannot function. Sodium is essential for the regulation of the body’s water balance and pH, while chloride plays a major role in digestion and in the absorption of potassium. Within the context of health policy discussions, salt and sodium are confused with each other. Salt is an ingredient while sodium is the actual nutrient. Salt is also not the only source of sodium. Sodium in food products can come from many sources, as natural content from food ingredients or as content from additives. In order to inform consumers in the correct way, nutritional information should mention the amount of sodium, and not the equivalent of salt. EuSalt’s new leaflet makes a clear distinction between salt and sodium and highlights sodium’s key role as a regulator of the body’s essential functions. The new leaflet also zooms in on the controversial and sometimes wrongly presented relation between a salt intake and hypertension. EuSalt raises the concern that although, there is no scientific consensus on the actual relationship between salt intake, high blood pressure and mortality, the link is often misunderstood and used as a scientific argument for salt reduction campaigns. EuSalt warns for the potential dangers linked to population-wide salt reduction regardless of the specific climate exposure, specific population groups or common traditional diet. Not only is there no proven scientific substantiation between salt reduction, significant lowering blood pressure and reduced mortality, but reducing salt intake levels can even have an opposite effect and can lead for some to an increase in blood pressure. There is also a divergence in specific salt intake. During intense physical activities or for elderly people and pregnant women it is recommended to have a higher salt consumption in order to help them restoring the balance in their body. EuSalt highlights the importance of a healthy, well balanced diet, a healthy lifestyle and regular physical activities as major contribution for lowering blood pressure Salt as a key ingredient in food manufacturing In relation to food manufacturing and processing, salt has two undeniable assets. Firstly, people across the globe have a preference for salt’s unique taste; salt improves taste and the perception of texture, and positively influences the flavour of other ingredients. Secondly, salt remains probably the best natural food preservative: it reduces the putrefaction risk and improves consistency and texture at the same time. For EuSalt, the exercise of reducing salt while maintaining good taste is difficult. It is clear that consumers will continue to value salt’s unique taste, and that food processors will continue using salt for its texturing assets. Salt and public health: key in the battle against iodine deficiency and tooth decay Iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) are still considered by UNICEF and WHO as being a major threat to the health and development of populations worldwide. These and other organizations worldwide have since long recognized the value of USI (Universal Salt Iodization) programmes for reducing the prevalence of IDD. Worldwide the preferred strategy to fight IDD is through USI programmes, because salt is considered being the ideal and safe carrier of iodine securing a stable consumption of iodine and reducing the risk of overconsumption at the same time. The occurrence of IDD in Europe is still a serious public health concern and EuSalt calls upon the member states to include the fight against IDD in the national and European public health policies. Although dental health has improved dramatically, there are still considerable problems with dental caries in many layers of the society. Fluoridation programmes, including the supply of fluoridated salt, are an effective health policy to control dental caries. Fluoridated salt provides the consumer the possibility to make informed choices. It has been used successfully in many European countries since long as part of the public health policy. For Wouter Lox, Managing Director of EuSalt, it is necessary to bring all the assets of salt under the attention of the political stakeholders: ‘with our information leaflet on the many positive applications and features of salt, we aim at providing all interested stakeholders with clear, science-based and correct insights on the many uses of salt, so that they can make well-founded decisions. The present health debates, which will be of major importance for the generations to come, should not be taken lightly and demand a precautionary approach, including assessment at regular times, following new scientific insights. The salt producers wish to act as responsible stakeholders in these debates, hence our intention to contribute to the knowledge of salt, and to a correct scientific understanding of its relationship to health. We believe this information leaflet is a milestone in realizing our ambition to act as responsible industry representatives.’ The new leaflet is available on the website or on simple demand About EuSalt The non-profit Brussels-based organisation EuSalt is the association of European salt producers and represents the interests of 20 salt producers located all over Europe. Being the voice of the salt industry in Europe, EuSalt provides authoritative information about salt and its many uses to all stakeholders involved in the European policy-making, the general public and other interested parties. EuSalt also offers access to a pool of expert knowledge for authorities. The association was founded in Paris in 1957 as the European Committee for the Study of Salt (ECSS) and was later re-baptised into the European Salt Producers’ Association (ESPA). In the beginning of 2004 the association moved to Brussels and was renamed EuSalt. The association is managed by Wouter Lox. The President of EuSalt is Jürg Lieberherr (CEO, United Swiss Salt Works). More information on Contact details Chris Decroix Wouter Lox Peak Communications EuSalt +32 2 454 55 55 +32 2 737 10 90