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Unpack the salt

Get reformulation ready - how food manufacturers can unpack the salt

By Elizabeth Joldeski

Around 75% of the salt in the Australian diet comes from processed and packaged foods and alarmingly, consumers are eating almost double the daily intake for recommended salt.

 

Developing products that are as healthy as possible but also tasty, competitively priced and safe is no simple matter, but a growing number of food manufacturers are proving it can be done.

 

In fact, the pursuit of health is driving widespread innovation across the food manufacturing industry. It is an excellent point of difference and consumer insights show that making health a priority enhances reputation, future brand positioning, and an improved bottom line.

 

To help and inspire food manufacturing companies to improve the nutritional content of their products and reduce salt, the Victorian Salt Reduction Partnership (which includes VicHealth, Heart Foundation Victoria, the George Institute for Global Health, Deakin University’s Institute of Physical Activity and Nutrition, Stroke Foundation, Kidney Health Australia, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, the High Blood Pressure Research Council and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services) is in the process of implementing a comprehensive program that aims to gain commitment and salt reduction action from governments, public and industry in Australia.

 

Established in 2015 to reduce salt intake in Victoria and Australia by gaining consensus and commitment for salt reduction action from government, the public and the food industry. We are:

  • Educating consumers and raising awareness that 75% of the salt in our diets comes from processed and packaged foods and providing tips to reduce salt intake.

  • Seeking engagement and action from government to implement an effective National Food & Nutrition Strategy to reduce the amount of salt in processed and packaged foods. This should include:

    • Set and monitor targets to reduce salt in identified food categories

    • Measure and monitor changes in population salt intake

    • Deliver a healthy national eating campaign, which includes a focus on the importance of reducing salt consumption

  • Strategic engagement with the food manufacturing industry to encourage the production of healthier foods and influencing the adoption of practices to reduce sodium in processed foods.

 

Everyone in our community needs to take responsibility and work together to make changes to improve the quality of our food supply. Food manufacturers can take the lead by reformulating processed foods to reduce salt and make foods healthier.

 

The Victorian Salt Reduction Partnership engages with food manufacturers to achieve the following:

  1. Recognise & showcase the reformulation work already occurring by sharing food manufacturer experiences as positive case studies for others within the industry to learn from; and

  2. Inspire, support, prepare and guide those food manufacturers that haven’t started on their reformulation journeys to do so, which is particularly urgent now that the Healthy Food Partnership has issued voluntary targets for the industry which are likely to be in place in 2019.

How can I learn more about the Victorian Salt Reduction Project?

If you are interested in learning more about the project and how you can become reformulation ready:

  1. Go to www.unpackthesalt.com.au. Here, you can access plenty of information and resources to help you reduce salt in your processed foods. The Food Category reports provide a detailed analysis on changes in salt levels from 2010 – 2017 for the following food categories: pasta sauces, ready-made meals, dips and crackers, and processed meats (sausages). These reports highlight the top ten highest and lowest salt products within these categories which can provide a useful benchmark for other food manufacturers.

  2. Go to the dedicated one stop page for the food manufacturing industry for sodium reformulation

  3. Contact the Food Industry Liaison team by email at unpackthesalt@heartfoundation.org.au to schedule a 1:1 meeting. These meetings provide food manufacturers with an overview of all of the resources that have been developed by the partnership to help you to produce healthier foods and to align your nutrient levels for sodium with the voluntary targets that are being set by the Healthy Food Partnership. These resources include:

Contact the Victorian Salt Reduction Partnership’s Food Industry Liaison team today to schedule a meeting to learn more about the resources, grants and tools that can help you be reformulation ready.