New grants to shake up salt in food production

Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) and VicHealth have joined forces to shake off the harmful amount of salt in processed foods with up to $300,000 in grants available to food producers.

The Victorian Salt Reduction Innovation Grants of up to $25,000 will help small to medium enterprises (SME) reformulate their products to reduce the amount of salt that Victorians are consuming.

Managing Director of FIAL Dr Mirjana Prica said the grants are a great way to help smaller companies make their foods healthier and be able to respond to shifts in the processed food market.

“While there is increased demand for lower salt food options, smaller food manufacturers often don’t know where to go for external advice on reformulation,” Dr Prica said.

“We’ve combined these grants with our online portal that connects food manufacturers to experts in food innovation, technology and business development.”

To support businesses to reformulate their foods, FIAL has created a Building Healthier Foods Platform, providing a fast and cost-effect pathway to connect food manufacturers with an expert to support their project. Experts are also available to assist with grant applications.

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said around 75 per cent of salt in Victorians’ diet comes from processed foods which is why reformulation is critical.

“We know Victorians eat far too much salt, putting them at risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes,” Ms Rechter said.

“Salt kills six times more Victorians than the annual road toll but if we reduced our salt intake by just three grams – which is less than a teaspoon – per day, we would save 800 lives from stroke and heart attacks.

“Reformulation is so important in reducing population salt intake, and these grants are a great way to empower smaller companies to create healthier, lower salt products.”

Indo-Australian partnership to look at salt tolerant rice

Scientists from India and Australia will collaborate towards developing rice that is tolerant to salt water. An agreement was signed between M S Swaminathan Research Foundation and the University of Tasmania (UTAS) in Chennai today for a project supported by the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund. The three-year project will conduct research on salt tolerant rice varieties identified from wild species using biotechnology approaches in India and in Australia.

Dr. Holger Meinke, Director, School of Land and Food, University of Tasmania, Hobart who was the signatory on behalf of UTAS said, “Partnership is the heart of what we need to achieve. We need to produce as much food in 50 years as we did in the entire 10,000 year history of agriculture. This is the reason why we need these kinds of projects.”

Dr V Selvam, Executive Director MSSRF, the Indian signatory to the project recalled the Foundation’s pioneering work in mangroves and saline tolerant plants. “The Integrated Mangrove Fishing Farming System developed by MSSRF has been recognized as a ‘Blue Solution’ by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We need new approaches for food security,” he said.

AISRF project awarded to UTAS and MSSRF through a highly competitive bidding process, will explore the use of a halophytic, wild rice relative (Porteresia coarctata or also called Oryza coarctata) that occurs as a mangrove associate in the inter-tidal mangrove swamps along the coasts of India and Bangladesh.

Dr Ajay Parida, principal investigator for the Indian side of the project called this a milestone in biotechnology research also due to the unique international collaboration.

Prof. Sergey Shabala, and Dr. Lana Shabala, from UTAS shared the details of the processes involved, while Dr Sivaprakash Ramalingam, MSSRF shared the techniques that will be employed towards achieving this process.

In the backdrop of increasing pressures on natural resources and need for food security solutions. In this regard, plants resistant to salinity could be of great significance. It is in this context that the research project between the University of Tasmania and MSSRF titled ‘Developing salt tolerance rice for food security in Australia and India’, supported by the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) will be of relevance.

McKenzie’s launches new products

McKenzie’s Foods are adding to their selection of products in time for Spring with the announcement of the new McKenzie’s Shaved Coconut (Dried, 150g), McKenzie’s Fine Pink Salt (400g), and McKenzie’s Baking Powder (300g – new size container).

McKenzie’s Shaved Coconut (Dried, 150g) will add to the McKenzie’s specialty coconut range offering shaved and dried superfood product in a convenient resealable bag. Shaved coconut will add a delicious flavour to a range of baking recipes, cereals, cake decorating, raw recipes, Asian salads, Thai and Indian cuisines.

McKenzie’s Fine Pink Salt (400g) extends the popular Shake & Pour range in a unique and convenient shake or pour lid. The health benefits of Himalayan Fine Pink Salt are endless, and are a perfect dining addition for BBQ’s, picnics and general home dining.

The bigger McKenzie’s Baking Powder (300g) will satisfy home-bakers who have been searching for a larger quantity of McKenzie’s trusted baking powder. The quality product is also Gluten Free, joining the rapidly-growing market and providing an alternative for those who have a gluten intolerance.

Victorians don’t know how much salt they’re eating: survey

A survey of over 800 Victorians has shown that most still don’t understand the dangerous levels of salt being consumed, with over two-thirds claiming that they eat less or about the right amount of salt, but many unable to correctly identify high salt foods.

The survey results come as the Heart Foundation and VicHealth launch their “Don’t Trust Your Taste Buds” campaign to urge Victorians to trust the label and not their taste buds when it comes to identifying hidden salt in processed foods.

Heart Foundation Victoria Chief Executive Officer Diana Heggie said the results from the survey showed that the campaign was urgently needed to help get the message out to Victorians.

“The World Health Organization recommends a maximum daily limit of 5g of salt each day for adults and 3g for children, but Victorian adults are consuming almost twice the upper limit,” Heggie said.

“High salt consumption increases the risk of high blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attack, stroke, kidney and blood vessel disease. Disturbingly, one in 20 deaths in Victoria is attributable to high salt intake – that’s six times the annual road toll.

“About 75 per cent of salt in our diets comes from processed foods. Salt is hiding in the everyday foods we eat and even the most discerning taste buds often won’t be able to taste it.”

This was reinforced when survey participants were asked to rank food products in order of salt content and on average only a quarter were able to correctly identify the food product with the highest salt content across the four food ranking tests.

Results of one question in the survey showed only 16 per cent of respondents were able to identify a serve of cornflakes and milk as having the highest salt content when compared to a 30g serve of popcorn, three chocolate and cream biscuits and 14 rice crackers.

ACCC slugs Arnott’s $51,000 for ‘misleading’ fat claims

Arnott’s has paid penalties totalling $51,000 following the issue of five infringement notices by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission relating to representations made by Arnott’s about its Shapes Light & Crispy product.  Arnott’s also provided a court enforceable undertaking to the ACCC.

The ACCC said that Arnott’s represented on the packs of four varieties of Shapes Light & Crispy and a multipack between October 2014 and July 2015 that Shapes Light & Crispy contained “75% less saturated fat” than Arnott’s’ original Shapes biscuits, when in fact it contained approximately 60 per cent less saturated fat than original Shapes.

In making the “75% less saturated fat” representation, the ACCC noted that Arnott’s was actually comparing its Shapes Light & Crispy product not to original Shapes but to potato chips cooked in 100% palm oil. This was included in a fine print disclaimer at the bottom of the packs. However, even if potato chips had been an appropriate comparison for the saturated fat content of Shapes Light & Crispy, the ACCC notes that since only around 20 per cent of potato chips sold in Australia are cooked in palm oil, the representation may still have been misleading.

“Consumers should be able to trust the claims that businesses make to sell their products. Small print disclaimers cannot correct false or misleading representations which are made in a prominent way in advertising or on packaging,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“Businesses must ensure that any comparison claims they make are accurate and based on meaningful comparisons for consumers. This is particularly the case regarding claims that involve healthier eating.”

“Truth in advertising, particularly where misleading claims are made by large businesses, is a priority enforcement area for the ACCC,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC issued the infringement notices to Arnott’s because it had reasonable grounds to believe that Arnott’s made a false or misleading representation about the composition of Shapes Light & Crispy, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.

Arnott’s has provided a court enforceable undertaking to the ACCC that it will not engage in similar conduct for a period of three years. It will also publish a corrective notice on its website and in the nationally published Foodmagazine.

New salt-reducing ingredient introduced in Hamburgers and Processed Meats

A new Salt of the Earth ingredient for Fi Europe hamburgers and processed meat has been launched to significantly reduce the amount of salt and MSG.

Derived from tomato, shiitake mushroom and kombu seaweed, Umamix aims to enhance flavour while reducing sodium in processed meat applications by up to 45 per cent.

Salt is widely used in meat processing as a flavour enhancer as well as a functional ingredient. Hamburgers or meatballs typically contain 1.2-2 per cent salt.

Marketing Manager for Salt of the Earth, Revital Ben Shachar said Umamix had the potential to help decrease sodium by 45 per cent in hamburgers and meatballs without affecting the taste of the final product.

“Our sodium reduction ingredient is designed to address these needs and keep the consumer-craved salty, savoury flavour. This highly cost-effective ingredient thus allows processors to meet all consumer demand targets,” Shachar said.

Creating sustainable solutions involving sea salt has been a challenge for the global food industry since 1922.

The National Health and Medical Research Council has set an ‘Adequate Intake’ of 20–40 mmol (460–920 mg) of sodium per day. This corresponds to 1.15–2.3 grams of salt.

Most Australian adults have a daily salt intake of about 10 grams, i.e. many times the maximum value of the Adequate Intake range.

 A ‘Suggested Dietary Target’ of 1600 mg of sodium (equivalent to about 4 grams of salt) has been set for Australian adults. This is about half the average Australian adult’s current salt intake.

Marketing sodium-reduction solutions made from Red Sea salts, Salt of the Earth controls and tracks salt resources in order to promote balanced salt consumption through sodium reduction solutions. 

McKenzie launches flavoured sea salt flakes in Pinch Pots

Australian owned brand McKenzie has launched a new range of flavoured sea salt flake to add to their Punch Pots rang of herbs and spices.

McKenzie Pinch Pots are natural, rich in minerals and naturally lower in sodium than other processed salts.

Available in four flavours, Sea Salt Flakes, Sea Salt & Pepper blend, Lemon &Thyme Seal Salt, and Garlic Seal salt.

“We’re committed to making it simple for Australians to create gourmet dishes for any occasion. The new Pinch Pots are a simple bench top addition that can bring to life your family favourites with a pinch and sprinkle,” said Melissa Clayton, Ward McKenzie’s Marketing Manager.

Red Rock Deli launches new range of Sweet Potato Crisps

Red Rock Deli, has released a new range of Sweet Potato Crisps. The new product joins Red Rock Deli’s existing range of Potato Crisps and Red Rock Deli Style Dips.

The new Red Rock Deli Sweet Potato Crisps are prepared using only the finest quality Australian sweet potatoes, according to the company.

Three flavour combinations are available – Roast Garlic, Rosemary & Thyme, Green Chilli & Coriander and Sea Salt.

“The success of Red Rock Deli has been built on providing unique tastes and textures with flavour combinations that capture our consumers’ imaginations. Our new Sweet Potato Crisps continue the brand’s journey of innovation and taste discovery,” said Robyn Quinn, Marketing Director, Red Rock Deli.

The company said that Red Rock Deli Sweet Potato Crisps are cooked in 100 per cent sunflower oil, and have no artificial flavours, preservatives or added MSG.