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AFGC focuses on World Salt Awareness Week

As part of World Salt Awareness Week, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) and food manufacturers are working with the Australian Division of World Action on Salt and Health (AWASH) to obtain more information on the amount of salt in processed foods and on salt reduction plans across specific product ranges.

The Australian food and beverage industry is taking practical steps to help Australians reduce their salt intake, AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell said today.

Kraft Foods’ Vegemite, which started reducing its salt content in 1974, now has 13 per cent less salt than the original recipe and Smith’s Classic Crinkle Cut Original Potato Chips now have 17 per cent less salt than in 2006, according to AFGC.

Unilever has also removed more than 250 tonnes of salt from their spreads, while Kellogg’s has removed a similar amount from their breakfast cereals since 1997.

“While salt is an important part of our diet, we know that eating too much can contribute to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular illnesses,” Ms Carnell said.

“That’s why the food and beverage sector is actively involved in a number of programs to reduce the salt content in food and educate consumers on how to construct a more balanced diet.”

Food manufacturers are also participating in a number of roundtable discussions jointly convened by AFGC and the federal government through the Food Health Dialogue to set salt reduction targets across product categories.

“The first two categories are breakfast cereals and breads, which were selected because they are commonly consumed by most people and therefore will give us the biggest impact on the community as a whole. This process will help us demonstrate what the industry can achieve collectively to reduce salt — how much and by when,” she said.

Ms Carnell highlighted that the food industry has long been involved in salt reduction strategies; both in terms of helping people understand how much salt is in their food and reformulating products to reduced salt levels.

“Food and beverage companies now offer a myriad of products with low salt options.

Also, the introduction of Daily Intake Guide labelling puts the salt (sodium) content squarely on the front of the pack and tells you how much a standard portion contributes to your daily intake,” Ms Carnell said.

Ms Carnell said that the sector looks forward to continuing to support the important work of organisations such as AWASH, particularly its efforts to help inform consumers during World Salt Awareness Week (1 — 7 February 2010).

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