Since 2012, RIVM has been monitoring the levels of salt, saturated fat and sugar in processed foods in supermarkets every two years (the Reformulation Monitor).  Since 2014, RIVM also monitors the composition of groups of foods for which agreements were made within the National Agreement to Improve Product composition (AVP). In 2020 it was the last time that the agreements were monitored and monitoring will continue within the frame of the new approach to improve food composition.


The first monitoring of reformulation of foods, introduced in 2012, focused on sodium and saturated fatty acids. The aim of the 2014 monitoring project (after the AVP was signed) was to monitor salt (sodium), saturated fat, and sugars (mono- and disaccharides) contents of processed foods on the Dutch market between 2011 and 2014, for foods contributing more than 3% to respective daily intakes. It was designed to make use of the existing databases and monitoring structures. A number of steps were required to set up the monitoring – including, among others, identifying the food groups important for daily intake and defining reference values per food group, then collecting food composition data from industry (Dutch Food Composition Database-NEVO) and the food safety authority and comparison to the reference data.  Since 2018, monitoring is based on food composition data as collected in the Dutch food database LEDA.

Reformulation Monitor 2020

In the most recent report, the food composition was reported and compared with food composition data of 2018. The method used for the Reformulation monitor was changed in 2018, and, as a result, it was not possible to say whether levels have changed compared with monitors prior to 2018. In general, the levels of salt, saturated fat and sugar have remained the same or have decreased compared with 2018. 

Lower levels were mainly seen in product groups for which agreements were made under the AVP. The level of salt was reduced in some processed meat products (such as pre-cooked chicken products, tinned Frankfurters and filet americain [raw beef spread]), curry sauce, plain potato crisps and tinned pulses. There is less saturated fat in some cold meats (meat loaf and liver sausage). The largest reductions in sugar were found in soft drinks.  

On average, the salt level in 72% of the AVP products was lower than or equal to the maximum limit, the saturated fat level in 86% of the AVP products was lower than or equal to the maximum limit and the sugar level in 71% of the AVP products was lower than or equal to the maximum limit. Some agreements could not be monitored because they are still ongoing or because insufficient data is as yet available.

It is important to establish whether the changes in food composition have led to a decrease in salt intake. This will be monitored using 24-hour urinary sodium excretion data *.