Dairy UK has called on British regulatory authorities to focus more on the nutritional qualities of cheese, and less on salt content.
Speaking at the All Party Parliament Cheese Group Reception in London earlier this week, Dairy UK communications director, Simon Bates, claimed that it is in “everyone’s interest that it’s nutritional values are recognised.”
“A 30g portion of cheddar contains 125 calories, 10g of fat and 6.5g of saturated fat. But it also contains protein, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus and B vitamins,” he said.
“The Department of Health advises that adults don’t consume over 6g of salt a day. That 30g portion of cheddar cheese contains 0.5g of salt, or less than 10% of the recommended maximum intake, and cheese is only responsible for 4% of the nation’s salt intake.”
According to Bates, it is also important to remember exactly why salt is added to cheese.
“Salt is added to cheese for safety and technical reasons. Without it, many products would be inedible and unsafe,” he said.
Dairy UK “in dialogue” with salt campaigners
Bates added, however, that the industry is working to overcome the “technical barriers” currently preventing a reduction in the salt content of cheese.
Speaking with DairyReporter.com yesterday, Bates said that Dairy UK was “in dialogue” with the likes of campaign group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) to achieve this.
Late last year, CASH called on the UK Department of Health to set lower salt content targets for cheese manufacturers. It made its plea on the back of a study that found some cheese products contained more salt than crisps or seawater.
“While salt is essential for cheese production, we are always looking at ways to reduce those levels,” said Bates. “It is important that we maintain dialogue with CASH to achieve this.”
Bates added that as part of their increasing dialogue, Dairy UK arranged for CASH chairman, Professor Graham MacGregor, to witness the cheese manufacturing process first hand.
“The day before the reception we arranged for Professor MacGregor of CASH to visit a creamery to see how cheese is manufactured and to see why salt is used in the cheese making process,” he said.
Focus on salt “coming up”
Bates added that his speech at the All Party Parliament Cheese Group Reception was tailored to coincide with British National Salt Week, which starts next week (Monday 11 March 2013).
“Well first of all, we are aware that it is National Salt Week coming up. It was partly in anticipation of that. It was also partly because we are in dialogue with CASH,” said Bates.
“We knew that there would be some focus on salt coming up.”