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Govt too busy to pursue lower salt target

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/07/2016

The government won't initiate a drive to bring down salt content in food products by at least a third to reach a 2025 global health target.

New Zealand has committed to the Word Health Organisation's sodium reduction target, to help reduce cases of heart disease, strokes and cancer.

However Auckland University health researchers say it will take "considerable efforts" to meet the target.

Reducing salt in packaged foods by 36 per cent, and added salt in other foods by 40 per cent, would bring down the total population intake in New Zealand by 35 per cent, enabling it to meet the 2025 target.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman told reporters on Thursday there had been a lot of public health messaging about the benefits of a reduced salt diet.

However, he said it wasn't an issue the government was actively considering as it had a "very busy health programme".

Under the global targets, products like white bread, hard cheese, sausages, and ready-to-eat breakfast cereals would all need a reduced salt content of at least 21 per cent.

Dr Helen Eyles said sodium intake was one of the two top dietary risk factors contributing to disease and many countries are finding ways to reduce it.

"In New Zealand some manufacturers have made changes to lower the sodium content of their products, but newer products are coming to the market all the time with high sodium content so we are making little progress overall," she says.

The research has been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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