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breakfast cereals and the breakfast cereal industy



14th March 2014

Salt is a very small but important component of some breakfast cereals. It is used to enhance flavour, and improve texture.

Breakfast cereals on average contribute a very small proportion of salt in the diet only 2% (NDNS) - on average they contain only 0.241g of sodium per 100g.

Cereal manufacturers have been reducing salt in their products for a number of years, prior to the FSA and Department of Health policies on salt reduction, with the latest data revealing a 58% reduction between 1998 and 2013.

ACFM's data is on its manufacturers' salt reductions, which is based on methodology developed by ACFM and endorsed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). (click here for press release relating to salt reductions in breakfast cereals)

Cereal manufacturers are committed to continue to review salt levels in the breakfast cereals market on an annual basis and to monitor the trend.

Significant Public Health Commitment from Breakfast Cereal Pioneers

14 March 2014

  • Since 1998, breakfast cereal manufacturers have reduced salt levels by 58%
  • Breakfast cereals make a tiny contribution to people's salt intake
  • Just 2%* of the salt in people's diets comes from breakfast cereals
  • Breakfast cereals on average contain only 0.241g** of sodium per 100g.
  • Some breakfast cereals do not contain any added salt.

Breakfast cereals make a tiny contribution to people's salt intake in the UK - just two per cent* of the sodium in people's diets which is considerably less than many other popular breakfast options and other foods. In fact, given that average intakes of salt are 8.6g per day in adults, which equates to 3.37g of sodium, just 0.17g of salt a day comes from breakfast cereals.

Commenting on the latest salt reductions figures, practising GP, Dr Gill Jenkins notes: "Breakfast cereals make a vital nutritional contribution to most people's diets and they are packed with vitamin and minerals. Unfortunately there seem to be many myths regarding breakfast cereals including the levels of salt content. Some breakfast cereals do not contain any salt as an added ingredient. We can also see from various government figures our consumption of salt from breakfast cereals is very low and so breakfast cereals should not be blamed for increasing people’s salt consumption habits.”

Dr Jenkins adds: "In addition, research studies2 from the last 12 months confirm what has been demonstrated in many other studies (reviewed by Gibson & Gunn 3) - that both children and adults who consume ready to eat breakfast cereals have improved nutrient intakes compared with people who do not eat breakfast and those who eat other types of breakfast. They add to the body of evidence that suggests the benefit of breakfast cereal consumption in terms of improved nutrient intake. Also, other research has noted that people who eat breakfast cereal in the morning generally eat less fat, saturated fat and sugar, than those who do not and have better intakes of protein and important micronutrients, such as iron, vitamin D, B vitamins and calcium. So if you want to ensure a good dietary start to the day, packed with energy, fibre and some of the daily vital vitamins and minerals, eating a breakfast cereal in the morning is a great start."


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Notes to Editors:
*Lennox A, et al (2010) Dietary intakes. In: National Diet and Nutrition Survey. Headline Results from Year 1 of the Rolling Programme (2008/2009), (B Bates, A Lennox, G Swan eds), pp. 33-53. Food Standards Agency and Department of Health: London.
** Sales weighted average, as calculated using methodology endorsed by the Food Standards Agency.

The ACFM is the trade association of the UK's leading breakfast cereal manufacturers, which includes Cereal Partners, Dailycer, Dorset Cereals, Jordans, Kellogg's, Morning Foods, Quaker and Weetabix.

  • Breakfast cereals are the most popular breakfast food with 88% of UK adults sometimes eating it and two thirds having it at least once a week.

(1) NHS Choices (2011) www.nhs.uk/news/2011/09September/Pages/cash-survey-salt-in-bread.aspx
(2) Affenito SG, Thompson D, Dorazio A et al. Ready-to-eat cereal consumption and the School Breakfast Program: relationship to nutrient intake and weight. J Sch Health. 2013 Jan;83(1):28-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2012.00744.x. Barr SI, Difrancesco L, Fulgoni VL 3rd. Consumption of breakfast and the type of breakfast consumed are positively associated with nutrient intakes and adequacy of Canadian adults. J Nutr. 2013 Jan; 143(1):86-92. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.167098. Epub 2012 Nov 21. Gibson, S and Gunn, P, What's for breakfast? Nutritional implications of breakfast habits: insights from the NDNS dietary records. BNF Nutrition Bulletin, 2011. 36, 87-95
(3) Gibson, S and Gunn, P, What's for breakfast? Nutritional implications of breakfast habits: insights from the NDNS dietary records. BNF Nutrition Bulletin, 2011. 36, 87-95