Australian Government forces food companies on commitments for less salt

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 28th March 2012

Australia’s leading pie manufacturers are the latest to have “voluntarily” agreed to reduce salt levels in thier products over the next two years as part of the Australian Government’s Food and Health Dialogue.

The Food and Health Dialogue, which comprises leading manufacturers and retailers as well as the Australian Government, met in Canberra on 23 March 2012 to discuss plans to reduce salt content in their food products.

Savoury Pies Impacted

The Dialogue is currently engaging the savoury pie sector, with companies agreeing to reduce the sodium content of wet pies with more than 400mg sodium and dry pies with more than 500mg sodium by 10 per cent over the next two years, from March 2012 to March 2014.

Leading pie manufacturers Homestyle Bake, Mrs Macs, Patties Pies, Peerless Foods and Vili’s along with major retailers Woolworths, Coles and Aldi are working collaboratively with the Australian Government under the Dialogue to reduce salt in their products.

Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King , who chairs the Food and Health Dialogue group said, “As a population, Australians consume too much sodium – primarily in the form of salt. More than three-quarters of the salt we eat comes from manufactured and pre-prepared foods. Excess salt consumption has been linked with an increased risk of high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart attack, kidney disease and stroke”

Next, Less salt in Australian soup products by 2015

On 25 November 2012, the Parliamentary Secretary publicly announced the agreed reformulation targets for participants of “the Soup roundtable”.

As part of their company action plans, participants on the Soup roundtable committed to reduce the sodium content of more than 35 products by the end of 2014. Participants will report back to the Dialogue on progress against their commitments annually with the first progress report due in February 2013.

Proposed priority food categories for salt reductions

The next categories to be engaged under the Dialogue are potato and corn chips, savoury crackers, noodles and condiments. At the meeting on Friday, members of the Dialogue noted the category definitions which will be used as the basis for data collection.

The Food and Health Dialogue membership includes representatives from industry through the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), the government’s food standards agency Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), the health advocacy group National Heart Foundation, the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), CSIRO, the Quick Service Restaurant Forum, Queensland Health, and the major retailers.