Food industry on target for reducing salt

Posted by Josette Dunn on 22nd March 2010

The amount of salt in Australian-manufactured breakfast cereals and breads is being reduced by leading food manufacturers to improve the diets and health of Australians as part of an industry, retailer and government partnership called the Food and Health Dialogue.Under the Dialogue – jointly convened by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) and Parliamentary Secretary for Health Mark Butler – salt reduction targets have now been set for most leading brands of ready-to-eat cereals as well as breads, rolls and buns.

“While salt is an important part of people’s diet, eating too much can be harmful and that’s why industry has been involved in salt reduction strategies for a number of years,” said AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell, who highlighted the support of other Food Dialogue representatives including the National Heart Foundation, Public Health Association, Woolworths and CSIRO.

“Many of Australia’s leading food and grocery manufacturing companies have made large strides forward in salt reduction. For example, Australian researchers recently found that more than 70 per cent of Australia’s ready-to-eat cereals were already below the salt target in this category*.”

The Dialogue agreed that for ready-to-eat breakfast cereals exceeding 400 milligrams of sodium per 100 grams, Kellogg’s, Sanitarium, Cereal Partners Worldwide, Woolworths, Coles and Aldi will reduce the sodium content of products by 15 per cent over four years.

Leading bread manufacturers George Weston Foods, Goodman Fielder Baking, Allied Mills and Cripps Nubake, as well as Woolworths, Coles and Aldi have agreed to reduce sodium across bread products to 400 milligrams per 100 grams by the end of 2013.

Since 2009, George Weston Foods has removed more than 342 tonnes of salt from its Golden and Tip Top product ranges without any alternation to the taste or texture. Ms Carnell said this has been a technical challenge and now many other brands were not far off achieving similar sodium reduction goals.

“Many other companies are also proactively identifying other food product areas where salt can be reduced including in processed meats, soups, sauces and snack foods,” Ms Carnell said.