Objective: To identify key opportunities for reformulation of processed foods that could best decrease population sodium intakes in New Zealand (NZ).
Method: Relevant national literature and reports were used to identify major food groups contributing to population sodium intakes in NZ. Sodium content data for these food groups were collected from the Nutrition Information Panels of processed foods in one large supermarket. Key opportunities for reformulation were identified by comparing mean sodium content with 2012 targets from the United Kingdom (UK) Food Standards Agency (FSA) and mean sodium values from Australia and the UK.
Results: Major contributors to NZ sodium intakes are: bread (26%), processed meats (10%), and sauces (6%). Mean (SD) sodium contents of these processed foods were: 447 (125) mg/100 g, 1,169 (444) mg/100 g, and 1,046 (1,235) mg/100 g, respectively. Food categories with the lowest percentage of products meeting corresponding FSA targets were: sausages/hot dogs and sliced meat (0%); salami/cured meat (2%); liquid meal-based sauces (4%); and multigrain bread (14%). Mean sodium contents of NZ products were higher than for similar products in the UK. Key opportunities identified for sodium reduction were: white bread, sausages and hot dogs, and salami/cured meats.
Conclusion: There is substantial scope to reduce the sodium content of NZ processed foods.
Implications: This paper identifies three key opportunities for reformulation of processed foods that could produce substantial decreases in sodium intakes in NZ, and benefits to population health.