Salt has overtaken food poisoning as the main concern for shoppers. Almost six out of 10 people questioned for a survey on behalf of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said that they were worried about the amount of salt in food.

Consuming too much salt is a significant risk factor in developing high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.

The top food-related concerns according to the survey, published yesterday, were: salt (57 per cent), food poisoning (56), fatty food (53) and sugar in food (50). The results back up other findings from the poll showing people are changing their eating habits.

More than one-third of the 3,229 adults questioned by Mori claimed to be eating more healthily than a year ago. However, 55 per cent said their diet was the same and 7 per cent admitted it had got worse.

There has been a big jump in the number of people eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. More than half of those questioned claimed to have eaten five portions the previous day - up from 28 per cent in 2003.

The survey found 90 per cent of people continued to use supermarkets for most of their food shopping. But the number who buy from markets has risen from 19 per cent in 2003 to 25 per cent last year. Gill Fine, the director of consumer choice and dietary health at the FSA, said: "Over the last five years people have become more worried about levels of salt, fat and sugar in food and the accuracy of food labels, and less concerned about issues like BSE."