Food industry making strides on reformulation: AFGC

Posted by James Ferre on 2nd February 2010

The Australian food and beverage industry is taking practical steps to help Australians reduce their salt intake, the country’s leading representative of food and beverage manufacturers has promised as World Salt Awareness Week kicks off.

“While salt is an important part of our diet, we know that eating too much can contribute to high blood pressure and other cardio vascular illnesses,” Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) Chief Executive Kate Carnell said. “That’s why the food and beverage sector is actively involved in a number of programs to reduce the salt content in food and educate consumers on how to construct a more balanced diet.”

AFGC and manufacturers are working with the Australian Division of World Action on Salt and Health (AWASH) to obtain better information on the amount of salt contained in processed foods and on salt reduction plans across specific product ranges.

Food manufacturers are also participating in a number of roundtable discussions jointly convened by AFGC and the federal government through the Food Health Dialogue to set salt reduction targets across product categories.

“The first two categories are breakfast cereals and breads, which were selected because they are commonly consumed by most people and therefore will give us the biggest impact on the community as a whole. This process will help us demonstrate what the industry can achieve collectively to reduce salt – how much and by when,” she explained.

Ms Carnell highlighted that the food industry has long been involved in salt reduction strategies; both in terms of helping people understand how much salt is in their food and reformulating products to reduced salt levels.

“Food and beverage companies now offer a myriad of products with low salt options. Also, the introduction of Daily Intake Guide labelling puts the salt (sodium) content squarely on the front of the pack and tells you how much a standard portion contributes to your daily intake,” she said.

Vegemite now has 13 per cent less salt than the original recipe, the AFGC noted as an example, and Smith’s Classic Crinkle Cut Original Potato Chips now have 17 per cent less salt than in 2006. Unilever has removed more than 250 tonnes of salt from their spreads, while Kellogg’s has removed a similar amount from their breakfast cereals since 1997.

World Salt Awareness Week will run from 1 – 7 February 2010.