Australians consume substantially more sodium than recommended. Three quarters of dietary sodium derives from processed food and the growing ready meal category is a significant contributor. This study examined changes in sodium levels of Australian ready meal products between 2008 and 2011. Sodium data were systematically collected from all product labels in the same 5 stores each year. Mean sodium levels were calculated overall and compared between ready meal types, and by major brands. The levels of sodium in new, discontinued and established products were also compared. There were 107 ready meal products in 2008, 313 in 2009, 219 in 2010 and 265 in 2011. Overall mean sodium content was unchanged between 2008 and 2011 (279 vs 277 mg/100g). There were clear differences between sodium levels of different brands (222 vs 310 mg/100g in McCain Healthy Choice and McCain products respectively) and marked variation in similar products (240 mg/100g in one brand of frozen cottage pie product vs 425mg/100g in another). The mean sodium content of recently introduced products was lower than discontinued products (289 vs 309 mg/100g), with the sodium level of established products remaining stable. The absence of any overall reduction in sodium levels of Australian ready meal products is discouraging. The failure of voluntary industry efforts to reduce the saltiness of these foods suggests a regulated approach will be required to drive product reformulation.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition|
|Publication status||Published - Jan 2013|
- Cardiovascular disease
- Food reformulation
- Public health nutrition
- Ready-to-eat meals