Halt the salt: Australia’s first salt reduction guide for food manufacturers launched

Australia’s first salt reformulation guide for food manufacturers will be launched today by the Heart Foundation and VicHealth to help reduce the high salt intake in Australian diets.

A recent consumer study found 47 per cent of people surveyed were very concerned about the amount of salt in food and a whopping 90 per cent knew that salt was bad for their health.

Reformulation Readiness: A best practice guide to salt reduction for Australia food manufacturers supports reduction of salt (sodium) in processed and packaged products. It guides manufacturers through the reformulation process with information on checking nutritional composition, completing competitor benchmarking, establishing salt targets and timeframes, product improvement and testing.

Leading nutritionist, reformulation expert and guide author, Vanessa Clarkson, said this new guide is particularly useful for small-to-medium food manufacturers.

“The food industry is constantly evolving to meet consumer demand, which increasingly is calling out for healthier choices,” Ms Clarkson said.

“Food manufacturers looking to reduce salt in their products will find this guide a useful starting point for their reformulation journey. By working collectively and over time to reduce salt in the food supply, consumers’ palates will adapt to lower amounts and together we can have a big impact on public health.”

Heart Foundation CEO Victoria Kellie-Ann Jolly welcomed the guide as timely with the Federal Government’s work to develop voluntary salt reformulation targets nearing finalisation.

“Our Reformulation Readiness guide provides a handy roadmap for Australia’s food manufacturers to embark on their salt reformulation journey. As we approach the Federal election, we encourage the incoming Government to announce voluntary salt targets in the near future,” Ms Jolly said.

“Excess salt consumption can lead to high blood pressure, yet Australians are consuming nearly double the recommended daily salt intake of less than a teaspoon. One in three Australians suffer high blood pressure, which puts them at risk for heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.

“The biggest contributor of salt in our diets is through processed and packaged foods, so it’s easy for people to consume too much salt without realising it.

“Through our Unpack the Salt campaign we’ve sought to educate consumers while working with manufacturers and the Federal Government to adopt a population-wide approach to reducing salt in processed food and setting voluntary targets in key food categories.”

VicHealth Acting CEO Dr Lyn Roberts AO said salt reformulation strategies are a “best buy” for improving Australia’s health.

“Australian manufacturers are making some progress with salt reduction but overall we are lagging. The UK has one of the lowest salt intakes of any developed country and this has been achieved through a robust and effective reformulation program,” Dr Roberts said.

“They have seen a 15 per cent reduction in the average population salt intake across a decade. Estimates suggest this has prevented more than 9000 premature deaths a year.

“It’s time to get reformulation ready and reduce salt in processed foods. We know consumers’ taste preferences for salt are heavily influenced by the saltiness of our food supply.

“This guide is about supporting food manufacturers to work towards voluntary salt targets, backed by strong Government leadership.

“The responsibility doesn’t just rest with the food industry alone, we need to work together – government, food manufacturers, public health bodies – to reduce salt in our food supply.”

Food manufacturers can find salt reformulation information and resources including Victoria Salt Reduction Innovative Grants up to $25,000 which are currently open and available for small-to-medium food manufacturers to apply. Visit unpackthesalt.com.au/salt-reformulation-in-australia