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Global Recognition for Salt Reduction Work

Global Recognition for Salt Reduction Work

The Heart Foundation has received global recognition for its decade-long work in reducing the amount of salt in New Zealanders’ diets.

The charity is being awarded the World Hypertension League’s ‘2014 Notable Achievement in Dietary Salt Reduction’ award, in acknowledgment of its interventions in reducing salt consumption at a population level. The announcement of this achievement coincides with World Hypertension Day, May 17.

Heart Foundation Food Industry Setting Manager Dave Monro says the award highlights the organisation’s extensive work over the last ten years to support and encourage food companies in reducing sodium levels in selected processed foods.

“These reductions have seen more than 210 tonnes of salt per annum removed from key food categories, with limited consumer detection,” says Mr Monro.

“The Heart Foundation’s reformulation programme was designed to build-on the work some companies had already made through their own internal programmes as well as create greater cross-category activity. We commend the leading roles that these food companies play.” says Mr Monro.

Katherine Rich, Chief Executive of the Food and Grocery Council says “this programme demonstrates the impact that can be achieved through a collaborative approach between the Heart Foundation and food industry groups.”

The World Hypertension League, a federation of leagues, societies and other national bodies with the objective of promoting the detection, control and prevention of arterial hypertension in populations, states it received many applications for highly respected nominees with noteworthy impact at the population-level.

“This year’s winners comprise a truly impressive class who are deserving of this recognition for their national or international contributions to the prevention and control of hypertension”, World Hypertension League Chief Executive Officer Mark Niebylski.

Mr Monro says the majority of New Zealanders consume twice as much salt as is recommended (around 9g compared with the suggested dietary target of 4.5g). High salt intake is strongly linked to increased blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

It is estimated that reducing average salt intake by 20 percent would save 930 lives in New Zealand a year. With processed foods accounting for around 75-85 percent of salt intake, the Heart Foundation recognised the key role food manufacturers could play in reducing population salt intake.

Mr Monro says there remains a significant amount of work still to be done to decrease the sodium intake of New Zealanders and, in turn, their risk of heart disease.

“Sodium reduction needs to be a key issue on the radar of food providers right across the food supply, including food companies, food preparers, fast food companies and caterers,” he says.

The Heart Foundation is the charity working to stop New Zealanders dying prematurely from heart disease. It is committed to promoting heart health through funding vital research, promoting heart healthy lifestyles and advancing cardiac care.

Ends

Background information to the Heart Foundation’s sodium reformulation work
In 2003, research undertaken by the Heart Foundation showed high levels of sodium in a number of low-cost, high-volume food items. From this research, it began working collaboratively with specific food industry groups to reduce sodium levels.

The first project, Target 450, was between the Heart Foundation and the bread industry and aimed to reduce the sodium content of bread to less than 450mg/100g. At the time, many low-cost, high-volume breads ranged from 500 - 550mg sodium per 100g. Within seven months, New Zealand’s two major bread companies had reformulated 24 products to meet the target.

The Heart Foundation’s food reformulation programme, HeartSAFE (Sodium Advisory & Food Evaluation), was developed in 2010 to extend the reformulation success in bread across other categories. This voluntary collaboration between the Foundation, the food industry and other health and food technology experts supports food companies to meet nominated sodium targets.

Sodium targets have been set from bread, breakfast cereals, processed meats, soups and savoury pies. In the majority of the targeted food categories to date, 80 percent of the volume market share has met the targets.

Work is currently underway to set sodium targets in butter and edible oil spreads, cheese, savoury snacks, cooking sauces and canned corn beef.

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