Highlighted in bright orange are countries that have implemented a legislative limit on the salt content of certain food products. Countries that will be implementing a limit on salt content within the next 1-2 years are highlighted in light orange.
Sodium is an essential nutrient, but excessive intake increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Salt is the main source of sodium in the diet and most people consume too much of it. Salt is often found in high quantities in processed foods. Eating too much salt is easy, given the high share of processed foods in today’s diets. Salt is added to such foods beyond one’s control, which makes it difficult to follow daily intake.
Reducing salt consumption has been identified as one of the most cost-effective health measures. The last period has seen various agreements being made between European governments and food producers containing voluntary commitments, including on salt reduction. Such agreements to date have shown mixed results, at best. Setting mandatory maximum salt levels for certain often-consumed products is a promising strategy to achieve results and create a level playing field for consumers and producers alike.
Countries with mandatory limits on salt content in certain food products
Belgium – bread
Bulgaria – bread, cheese, processed meat products
Croatia – bread
Finland – bread and cereal products
Greece – bread, tomato juice, tomato concentrates
Hungary – bread and bakery products
Netherlands – bread
Portugal – bread
Slovakia – bread
Spain – bread (starting from April 2022)
Data source & further reading
Main data source:
Santos et al., A Systematic Review of Salt Reduction Initiatives Around the World: A Midterm Evaluation of Progress Towards the 2025 Global Non-Communicable Diseases Salt Reduction Target, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 12, Issue 5, September 2021, Pages 1768–1780
Policies for healthy living environmentsPOLICY MAPPING / FOOD ENVIRONMENTS
Latest update: December 8, 2021