Obesity is one of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century, while cardiovascular disease remains the biggest cause of death in both the developed and developing world — killing around 12.7 million people each year.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the prevalence of obesity has tripled in many European countries since the 1980s, and the number of those affected continues to rise at an alarming rate. Raised blood pressure, WHO reports, is the biggest single cause of cardiovascular disease and the current high intake of salt is the major determinant of this.
Little wonder that the Salt and Sugar Reduction Symposium 2008, organized by CMPi, attracted such a strong attendance. Some 120 delegates from 22 countries travelled to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, at the beginning of April to learn about the latest developments in food reformulation to reduce or replace sugar and salt, with speakers drawn from both the public and private sectors.
Danisco’s application manager, sweeteners and pharmaceuticals, Mette Sveje, said that “consumers are more aware of their daily total sugar consumption than their daily fat consumption, and there is growing concern about the amounts and types of sugars consumed.” Various initiatives are underway, both government- and industry-led, to reduce average salt and sugar consumption, but to remain acceptable to the consumer, food profiles cannot simply be improved — food must still taste good! While health and well-being are increasingly important to the average consumer, taste remains key and the conference’s speakers detailed various methods facilitating the achievement of both, without compromise.
Dr Paul Sheldrake, market manager with Avebe Food, says: “The general market trends of Health and Wellness, Natural and Safe, Premium and Indulgent, and Versatile and Convenient are consistent with the trends for reduction in salt and sugar as part of healthy and balanced products and a diet where there is focus from food manufacturers on offering key value propositions.”
The last decade has seen the number of products launched in Europe with a “low” or “reduced” sugar position far exceed those labelled “all natural”, demonstrating growing consumer interests, and this trend can be expected to continue. But salt and sugar remain key elements of our diets, and delegates heard just how important communication with the consumer is to facilitate healthy purchases, and how messages must be conveyed in a way that the consumer will understand.
Day two of the symposium comprised master classes examining the safety aspects of reducing salt and sugar, and natural alternatives, which looked at the range of emerging technologies, methods and products employed to make products cleaner. The event received the generous sponsorship of Armor Proteines and DSM, with representatives from both companies being on hand to answer both salt and sugar related questions.
CMPi’s head of conferences, food and pharmaceutical ingredients, Mandana White, commented: “We were excited and encouraged by the response to this event, and we’ve had a lot of requests for a follow-on meeting next year. The food industry is certainly taking its role in helping public health seriously, and looking to the ingredients industry to help it find solutions.”
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