Sausages under fire as salt levels to lead to industry action

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 11th July 2008

Alarming results released today by the Australian Division of World Action on Salt and Health (AWASH) show that only 2% of sausages in Australian supermarkets meet acceptable salt levels.

AWASH revealed that one single sausage sandwich at a local barbecue could contain as much as 6 grams of salt; 100% of the maximum daily recommended amount for adults and almost double that recommended for children.

The product overview shows that other products commonly eaten at barbecues, such as hamburger patties, tomato sauce and some white breads, are also high in salt. It shows huge variations in the salt content of different brands of similar products, with some sausages containing over three times as much salt as others.

These findings have been released to coincide with the launch of an AWASH strategy of working with the food industry to reduce salt in foods by 25% over five years. The strategy requires high level commitment from the food industry and the development of individual company action plans. AWASH is also inviting views on proposals for developing targets for salt levels for specific products and focusing on processed meats, bread and the fast food sector.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council has announced the support of the need to reduce population salt intakes to below 6 grams per day and many major food companies have already developed salt reduction plans in line with the AWASH strategy.

Dr Bruce Neal, Chairman of AWASH, believes progress has been made but there is still a long way to go. “While some food companies deserve credit for their efforts to reduce salt, a lot more still needs to be done,” he said. “Major players such as Coles, Kellogg and Unilever have been reducing salt for some time, but there are still far too many high salt products on supermarket shelves.”

“The food industry in Australia is committed to further action to reduce salt in foods. The Government now needs to make salt a national health priority and lead negotiations on maximum salt targets for different products. Only then will Australians have a chance of reducing their daily salt intake to recommended levels,” Dr Neal concluded.

The World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) was launched in October 2006 and sought to reduce salt intake to less than 5g per day due to the negative impact it has on blood pressure. The UK has been seen as leaders with many manufacturers and retailers cutting back on the salt content in their products in the wake of a campaign by the Food Standards Agency.