Pub, restaurant and cafe operators are being asked to agree more far-reaching salt reduction targets by December 2017 under the Responsibility Deal with the Government.

The new targets update those from 2012 and involve 76 separate food types including meats, cheeses, fats, breads and cereals. For example, the maximum salt allowed in 100g of margarine has fallen from 1.63g to 1.38g.

The average amount of salt per 100g of mozzarella has been cut from 1.5g to 1.35g and for pastries it has dropped from 0.5g to 0.35g. The maximum allowed for pesto and other thick sauces has fallen from 5g to 3.75g.

Two new targets have also been added for 2017. The maximum salt allowed in gravy, as consumed, is 1.13g under the new proposal, and for stock it’s 0.95g.

However, for a small number of items, the amount of salt allowed has been increased under the 2017 targets. For example, the maximum permitted in 100g of sausage has increased from 1.13g to 1.38g.

The aim of the new pledges is to achieve an average salt intake of 6g per day for adults. “This pledge therefore aims to reduce the average amount of salt eaten, to help lower people’s risk of high blood pressure and the chance of having a heart attack or stroke,” the Department of Health said.

“It is understood that the levels set for some categories are considered aspirational and will require acceptable technical solutions if they are to be achieved in full, but progress towards these goals will bring public health benefits. These targets will help consumers lower their salt intake by limiting the amount of salt in foods that are commonly consumed as part of the UK diet.”

The department said the aim is for 100% of products or volume sales within an individual category to meet the targets. However, because there can be “technical or other difficulties associated with this”, businesses can say they have met the target for a sub-category if 95% of products or volume sales meet the targets, and if efforts have been made to reduce salt in the remaining 5% of products or volume sales to a minimum.

A Department of Health spokesman told M&C Report in October that at that point, half of all high street restaurants had committed to cutting salt in their products.

The companies and brands that agreed to the 2012 pledge on salt, known as F2, include Wetherspoons, Costa, Greene King, Strada and Subway.