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News Archive 2014

Research Project underway in UCD to examine consumers’ attitudes to salt reduction in food

Wednesday, 10 December, 2014 


Dr Aine Regan, UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science.

Dr Aine Regan, UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science.

A research project underway in the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy, & Population Science Food Reformulation for Consumers (FORC) is led by Professor Patrick Wall and is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the Food Institutional Research Measures (FIRM) programme. The project falls under the Food for Health research theme and will seek to investigate consumer acceptance of reformulated food products – with the aim of informing both industry reformulation strategies and public health campaigns.

Coordinator and lead researcher on the project, Dr Áine Regan explains the value of such research: “Requiring or encouraging the food industry to reduce high levels of unhealthy nutrients such as salt in processed foods is viewed as a way to combat societal and public health challenges presented by diet-related diseases. It also represents an opportunity for the Irish Agri-Food sector to lead the way in the production of healthy food options for consumers. However, underlying the success of any healthy eating strategy is the support of the public; we need to establish consumer acceptance of reformulated food products and investigate how industry approaches to food reformulation align to consumer perceptions and needs”.

This FORC project will focus specifically on consumers’ attitudes towards salt reduction, which will complement and support the work in Ireland over the last number of years, led by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland with the Salt Reduction Programme. A national survey will be carried out to assess Irish consumers’ attitudes, knowledge, and behaviour in relation to salt intake, and establish where support for voluntary food industry salt reduction is situated alongside a range of other potential salt reduction strategies. The project, which began earlier this year, will run for 12 months.