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Small tick eliminates tonnes of salt

Small tick eliminates tonnes of salt from New Zealand breakfast tables

Thirty-three tonnes less salt in foods thanks to Pick the Tick

New research has revealed the significant impact the Pick the Tick programme has had on the salt content of everyday foods in New Zealand.

The study, carried out by Leanne Young and Boyd Swinburn on behalf of the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand, shows that over a 12-month period, the Pick the Tick programme influenced food companies to exclude salt from breads, breakfast cereals and margarine by a total of 33 tonnes.

The results of this unique research have been published in the March edition of 'Health Promotion International,' a prominent British health promotion journal.

The results are outstanding news for the health of New Zealanders, says Leanne Young. "Reducing salt in the food supply will have population wide effects on blood pressure levels. It has been estimated that reducing the average daily salt intake by half would benefit a population by reducing the incidence of stroke by 25 per cent and of heart disease by 15 per cent. This salt reduction will play a major part in contributing to the overall health of New Zealanders."

The Pick the Tick programme was established to make it easier for consumers to choose healthier foods. This research shows that the programme is working well and that consumers can be assured that when they choose a product carrying the 'Tick' it represents a healthier choice within the food category. According to recent consumer research, 59 per cent of shoppers use the 'Tick' to help with making healthy food choices while 81 per cent trust the Tick to make healthier food choices.

The largest reduction of salt was found in breakfast cereals, with an average reduction of 61 per cent sodium (378mg sodium per 100g product). Bread was reduced by an average of 26 per cent (123mg per 100g product) and margarine by 11 per cent (53mg per 100g product). These reductions have not affected product taste or quality.

Says Leanne Young, "The findings clearly show the impact the Pick the Tick programme has had on the food industry and the benefits this has had for consumers. There are currently 80 companies and 750 products with 'Tick' status. Nutrition has been used increasingly by the food industry as a marketing tool. While the Pick the Tick programme has appealed to the food industry as a valuable vehicle for advertising and marketing food products, attaining the 'Tick' logo has provided an incentive for food manufacturers to improve the nutritional value of foods.

"Pick the Tick provides the framework for food reformulation and our research shows that nearly 50 percent of 'Tick' licensees have either reformulated or formulated their products to meet the strict nutritional criteria of the programme."

Leanne Young is former Food Industry Manager and Boyd Swinburn was Medical Director of the Heart Foundation.


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