No added salt? Don’t let the labels fool you.

There’s no salt listed in the ingredients in my food, so there mustn’t be any in it, right? Wrong!

Salt is made up of sodium and chloride and sodium can be added to foods to fulfil many functions during processing. Sodium is in fact a component of HEAPS of food additives used in the processed foods we buy from the supermarket, stock our pantries with and feed our families. It’s the sodium component of salt that is harmful, so the most bullet-proof way to watch your salt intake is to check the ingredients list for sodium. It’s usually found amongst a whole bunch of words that confuse us. But don’t be overwhelmed, be on the look out for the 6 little letters –

S O D I U M.
It may even be joined to other words – SODIUM phosphate anyone?

Australian food law states any additives containing salt or sodium must be listed in the ingredients list (found on the packets of the foods we buy, usually on the back). Ingredients are required (by law) to be listed in descending order – that means the ingredients in the greatest amount in the food are listed first, down to the smallest quantities. The higher up the sodium-containing ingredient is in the ingredients list, the more sodium in the product relative to the other ingredients.

Powdered cooking sauces, sachet soups, baking powder, soy sauce and stock cubes are some of the products you might find sodium listed in many different forms.

Below is a comprehensive list of salt and sodium containing ingredients commonly used in our food supply. It can appear a little overwhelming but looking for these salt or sodium containing additives in the ingredients list will certainly help you identify the salt sources in your family’s diet!

Other types of salts containing sodium
Black salt
Celery salt
Emulsifying salt
Garlic salt
Himalayan salt
Iodised salt
Mineral salt
Onion salt
Pink salt
Rock salt
Sea salt
Table salt
Vegetable salt

Sodium containing food additives
Disodium phosphate
Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Potassium sodium tartrate
Sodium acetates
Sodium acid pyrophosphate
Sodium alginate
Sodium aluminum phosphate
Sodium aluminosilicate
Sodium ascorbate
Sodium benzoate
Sodium bicarbonate
Sodium bisulphite
Sodium carbonate
Sodium carboxymethylcellulose
Sodium chloride
Sodium citrate
Sodium diacetate
Sodium dihydrogen citrate
Sodium erythorbate
Sodium ferrocyanide
Sodium fumarate
Sodium gluconate
Sodium hydrogen malate
Sodium hydrosulphite
Sodium hydroxide
Sodium nitrate/nitrite
Sodium oleyl lactylate
Sodium phosphate
Sodium propionate
Sodium pyrophosphate
Sodium sorbate
Sodium stearoyl lactylate
Sodium sulphate
Sodium sulphite
Sodium tartrates
Sodium tripolyphosphate

Common food ingredients containing sodium
Baking powder
Baking soda
Soy sauce
Stock cubes
Yeast extract

Appendix 1: References

  1. Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Food Standards Code. [Internet]. Canberra (AU): Food Standards Australia New Zealand; 2015 [updated 2017; cited 2017 May 10]. Available from: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/Pages/default.aspx