Unilever calls for commitment to healthier formulations

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 25th February 2010

Unilever Australia Corporate Nutritionist and Dietitian Megan Cobcroft called for the food industry to take responsibility for reducing salt, sugar and saturated fat in their products at Tuesday’s FoodLegal Symposium in Sydney.

Unilever, with the assistance of the Heart Foundation, began removing salt and trans fats from margarine products in the 1990’s, and created Australia’s first virtually-trans-fat-free spreads.  Since 2002, Unilever reports that their systematic nutritional improvement program has removed more than 30% of the salt from 155 different products.

In 2004, the World Health Organisation called for the food industry to make the “healthy choice, the easy choice”, a sentiment echoed by the recent Australian National Preventative Health Strategy.  Even small changes by large producers are believed to have a significant effect on consumer health.

Cobcroft reported that the changes need not always be publicised to the consumer. While consumer interest in health and nutrition is growing, taste remains the primary driver of food choice.  Consumers often erroneously associate low salt with low taste, so Unilever has silently reduced the salt content of food products as a matter of corporate responsibility, rather than health marketing.