Food industry tackles excess salt

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 20th May 2009

The Australian food and beverage industry is continuing to review product formulations and processing technologies to reduce the use of salt, according to Australia’s leading organisation representing food and grocery manufacturers, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell said that it was well known that most Australians have too much salt in their diet, putting them at risk from high blood pressure, stroke and cardiovascular disease. Recent research by The George Institute has found alarming salt levels in Australian pizzas, with 94% of the pizzas they tested reportedly “overloaded with salt“.

“We also know that most of the salt intake comes from many of our every day foods so we have been working with the Australian Division of World Action on Salt and Health (AWASH) and the National Heart Foundation to reduce the amount of salt in processed foods.

“This is an ongoing process as companies must ensure that their products remain appealing to consumers in terms of taste and convenience,” she said.

Ms Carnell said that the industry has made excellent progress in recent years. For example:

. Smiths Original Potato Chips have 17 per cent less salt than four years ago

. Unilever Australia has reduced the salt content of more than 155 Continental products (including Cup-a-soup, Pasta & Sauce, Rices, Recipe Mixes and Stocks) by 30% on average

. The Sanitarium Health Food Company has reformulated several products to reduce the sodium content – Vegie Delights Not Burgers was reduced by 49%

. McCain reduced the sodium in its pizza singles by 30 percent in 2008

Efforts to reduce salt in the UK have already been made by UK’s Food Standards Agency, who this week published revised, voluntary salt reduction targets for industry to meet by 2012.