Believe it or not, there is a group out there called WASH (World Action on Salt and Health) and they like to let you know the dangers of eating too much salt: serious health conditions such as stroke and heart failure, onset of stomach cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and kidney stones.

World Salt Awareness Week (March 21-27, 2011) is an ideal opportunity to highlight the many hundreds of tonnes of salt that food companies have removed from their food products, says the Food and Grocery Council’s CEO Katherine Rich.

Ms Rich says many food companies have been working on salt reduction initiatives for a number of years. “We are also working closely with other stakeholders such as the National Heart Foundation’s HeartSAFE program and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to help accelerate this work,” she says.

“With many consumers not realising they are consuming too much salt, this awareness week will emphasise how important it is for people to look for lower salt products”.

Salt is made up of sodium chloride and it is the sodium in the salt that is being reduced by many food companies.

Examples include:

Kellogg: the company started reducing sodium in its breakfast cereals in 1997. Since then the company has reduced the sodium in:

Kellogg’s Sultana Bran by 59%, Kellogg’s All-Bran and Kellogg’s All-Bran Wheat Flakes by 55%, Kellogg’s Just Right by 39%, Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes by 37%,Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Kellogg’s Rice Bubbles by 33%, Kellogg’s Special K by 23% and Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain by 13%. The company also has an on-going commitment to continue reducing sodium across their products.

Hubbard Foods has significantly reduced the level of sodium in all of their cereals several years ago. All their cereals launched last year met specific sodium guidelines.

Sanitarium continually reviews all of its products in line with its Corporate Food Policy and consumer trends. As a result, an ongoing project has seen two of their iconic brands have major reductions in sodium levels – Skippy Cornflakes by 31 per cent and Ricies by 19 per cent.

Bluebird Foods is on a journey to transform its product portfolio and has committed to reducing the sodium content across its product range by 25% over five years, commencing in 2008.

Bluebird has already reduced the sodium in its snack product portfolio by 11% (by mid 2010). Sodium reduction has been implemented across the potato and corn chip ranges, extrusions, and Grain Waves. Future changes are planned as Bluebird balances reducing salt levels without adversely affecting taste and consumer acceptability

Nestle has been reducing sodium for a number of years and since 2005 many products have been reformulated. This has resulted in a sodium decrease of up to 25% in a wide range of the products in the Maggi culinary range.

Mars New Zealand has reduced sodium by an average of 25% across its Kan Tong range and the company has a sodium reduction program in place across its Uncle Ben’s range.

Heinz Wattie’s Ltd has developed a sodium reduction programme in 2005 which has addressed the salt content of new and existing products since then. Last year over 60 percent of all Wattie’s new product development projects met the ideal sodium criteria set for their category. Wattie’s has achieved sodium reductions of up to 62 percent in existing reformulated products.

Fonterra has won international recognition for its breakthrough research which enabled it to produce a reduced-salt Cheddar cheese. With this product the company has maintained the full flavour and functionality of a standard Cheddar but with 40% less salt. Originally developed for UK and Asian markets, Fonterra is now looking into whether there is an opportunity to manufacture it for the Australian and New Zealand market.”

Arnotts and Unilever are also among other companies that are undertaking sodium reduction in many of their products

George Weston Foods and Goodman Fielder have worked with the Heart Foundation to reduce sodium across a range of breads to a level of 450mg for every 100g. As a result the major companies have removed approximately 150 tonne per annum of salt from their bread.

For further information contact:

Vicki Hamilton, Consultant, NZ Food and Grocery Council

Phone +64 27 551 3392

 

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