Impact of the UK voluntary sodium reduction targets on the sodium content of processed foods from 2006 to 2011: analysis of household consumer panel data

Prev Med. 2013 Nov;57(5):555-60. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.07.024. Epub 2013 Aug 13.


Objective: In 2006 the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) introduced voluntary sodium reduction targets for more than 80 categories of processed food. Our aim was to determine the impact of these targets on the sodium content of processed foods in the UK between 2006 and 2011.

Method: Household consumer panel data (n>18,000 households) were used to calculate crude and sales-weighted mean sodium content for 47,337 products in 2006 and 49,714 products in 2011. Two sample t-tests were used to compare means. A secondary analysis was undertaken to explore reformulation efforts and included only products available for sale in both 2006 and 2011.

Results: Between 2006 and 2011 there was an overall mean reduction in crude sodium content of UK foods of -26 mg/100g (p ≤ 0.001), equivalent to a 7% fall (356 mg/100g to 330 mg/100g). The corresponding sales-weighted reduction was -21 mg/100g (-6%). For products available for sale in both years the corresponding reduction was -23 mg/100g (p<0.001) or -7%.

Conclusion: The UK FSA voluntary targets delivered a moderate reduction in the mean sodium content of UK processed foods between 2006 and 2011. Whilst encouraging, regular monitoring and review of the UK sodium reduction strategy will be essential to ensure continued progress.

Keywords: FSA; Food Standards Agency; Food industry; Great Britain; Legislation; NIP; Nutrition Information Panel; Sodium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Diet, Sodium-Restricted*
  • Food Additives / chemistry
  • Food Analysis*
  • Food Preferences*
  • Food-Processing Industry / trends*
  • Humans
  • Sodium, Dietary / analysis*
  • United Kingdom
  • Volition*


  • Food Additives
  • Sodium, Dietary