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Lower salt contents in some foods, but similar saturated fat contents

Publication date: 24 February 2015
Modificationdate: 20 October 2016
Some foods contain less salt in 2014 compared with 2011. According to research by RIVM the salt content of bread was 21 percent lower in 2011. With current consumption patterns in the Netherlands, lower salt in bread probably leads to lower daily salt intake, as bread is a major contributor. In other foods such as soups and meat, the salt content remained unchanged. No major differences were observed for saturated fat and sugar between food compositions in 2014 compared with 2011 and 2013.

RIVM monitors the salt (sodium), sugar and saturated fat contents of foods over time as commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. In January 2014, the minister of Health Welfare and Sport and representatives of the food industry, retail and the hospitality and catering sector signed an ‘Agreement for Improvement of Food Composition’.  In this agreement, the parties committed to lower the contents of  salt, saturated fat, and calories (from sugar and fat) in foods up to 2020 via pledges. In the report, new data on the composition of foods are compared with data from 2011 and 2013.

The salt content of cheese was circa 11 percent lower compared to the level in 2011, although the difference was not statistically significant. However, the saltiness varies considerably by the type of cheese. In meat cold cuts used as  sandwich fillings, the salt content remained similar to that of 2011 and 2013. The  meat sectors’ pledge for salt reduction of meat cold cuts is valid until June 2015. The salt content of processed vegetables and legumes, such as peas or beans in cans or glass, was significantly lower in 2014 compared with 2011.

In addition to salt and saturated fat, RIVM will be montitoring  the sugar contents of foods contributing most to intake of added sugar. The sugar content was determined for foods contributing more than three per cent to the daily sugar intake in the Netherlands, such as dairy products (soft) drinks, pastry and confectionery, spreads, bread and cereal products, processed fruits and vegetables. This 'baseline measurement' will enable to evaluate the extent to which manufacturers are successful to reduce the amount of added sugar.

At the end of 2014, the results were used to inform the House of Representatives of the Dutch parliament about the progress of the ‘ Agreement for Improvement of Food Composition’. 

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