The Government’s plans to reduce salt content in foods has been warned by cheesemakers. This could lead to a shortage of British cheeses.

Because of the high salt levels found in certain supermarket products and meals, food companies have been given targets to lower their salt content.

However, protestors claim that it will cause damage to the UK’s artisans cheese producers. Because certain salt levels are required for making classic Stilton and blue cheeses, they say. 

Salt is also used to kill harmful bacteria in the cheesemaking process – on top of producing a good taste.

Protestors say cutting salt in cheese production will damage the UK's artisan cheese producers because certain levels of salt are essential to churn out classic 'blue' cheeses as well as Stilton

Protestors claim cutting salt from cheese production in the UK will cause harm to UK’s artisans cheese producers. Certain levels of salt are vital for Stilton and classic blue cheeses.

Dairy UK was one of the groups that stated that certain salt levels in cheese-making are an ‘integral’ aspect and not a part of any recipe which can be altered’.

The new regulations may put British cheese makers at risk and encourage shoppers to purchase more imported varieties.

Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, has joined the protests. He added: “I would like to know how many people are believed have succumbed from overeating too much Stilton,”

He claimed that health campaigners had chosen the wrong target and could inflict serious harm on the thriving craft cheese industry.

The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities is part of Department for Health. It stated that they want to see Stilton and Blue Cheese’s salt levels decrease from the current ‘unhealthy” average of 2.1 percent to 1.8% by 2024 and started a consultation.

Groups including Dairy UK said the use of certain levels of salt in cheese-making is an 'integral aspect' rather than a 'part of a recipe which could be adapted'

Dairy UK, Dairy UK and other groups stated that the salt used in cheese making is an “integral part” rather than a “part of a recipe that could be modified”.

However, the idea has elicited immediate reactions from cheesemakers who claim that lowering the salt content in their products will affect the quality and render them unusable for manufacturing.

Dairy UK has supported the group and is asking for MPs to lobby for a special exemption to maintain current salt levels.

Dr. Judith Bryans from Dairy UK wrote a warning to MPs. “The dairy sector understands that Public Health England (now incorporated within the newly created Office for Health Improvement and Disparities), is keen to cut salt consumption.

“However we insist that the UK’s health policy be effective and proportionate to achieve its objective.

“These salt reduction measures inadvertently target and place pressure on certain of the country’s most loved cheeses and will put Britain at great competitive disadvantage against other European and global cheesemakers, whose products wouldn’t be subject to these rules.

Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, has joined the protests. He said: 'I should like to know how many people health officials believe have died from salt overdose as a result of eating too much Stilton'

Ian LiddellGrainger (MP for Bridgwater & West Somerset) has joined protests. He added: “I would like to know how many people have died of salt poisoning from eating too much Stilton.”

“Not only is this, but continuing reductions in salt levels can lead to serious concerns regarding the safety of cheeses. Salt’s main role in preventing growth of harmful organisms in cheese development and flavouring cheeses will be important.

The cheese industry has made tremendous strides towards reducing salt content, however, salt remains a key ingredient in cheesemaking for hundreds of years. This is both because it’s safe and delicious.

“It’s right that public health efforts to lower salt intake focus on nutrient-poor foods but it shouldn’t endanger traditional and nutritious foods like blue cheese.

Blue Stilton, which is protected by a designation of origin and has a Certified Trademark, should not be subject to salt reductions due to the strict conditions that cheese manufacturers must follow to produce and sell it.

“If you don’t have the option of salting blue cheese, then keep it at 2 percent. This is in recognition that salt has a vital role in cheesemaking as well as in providing quality and safe cheeses.

Mister Liddell-Grainger (MP for Bridgwater & West Somerset) said that the proposal was another unwarranted intruder by health-conscious people.

Stilton, a food product that is legally protected, requires that certain quantities of salt be used in order to make it.

“The craft cheese industry has seen a huge boom in recent years, and there are now artisan British cheeses to rival the best.

“Stilton, a rare product for connoisseurs who enjoy small quantities of it, is very popular.”

He claimed that OHID was just another case of Government choosing the wrong target. They chose to focus on a successful industry in craft foods, when the real danger to national health is still from industrial food manufacturing.

It’s absurd to attempt to influence the production and marketing of an established product. However, it is impossible to do anything about the increasing number of processed foods laden with fat, sugar, salt that find their way to market each day.

“If we look at some of the ingredients, we can see why obesity, diabetes and heart disease are such a problem in the country. This is what’s causing so much financial burden for the NHS.

“This is the sector where the Government should focus its healthy eating campaign and not on a sector producing safe traditional food that has been enjoyed safely over many years, in Stilton’s example since 17th century.