La iniciativa de lograr óptima ingesta de sal en las américas: trabajo compartido entre gobiernos, sociedad civil y la industria alimenticia

Role of the food industry in the process of implementation of the regional goals

Elizabeth Vargas

Unilever Brasil, San Pablo, Brasil

Introduction: A proper intake of sodium is important to the balance of human body, for instance for basic physiological functions such as blood pressure and fluids control. Nevertheless, the concerning regarding the high sodium intake has led to a worldwide movement to advocate in favor of sodium reduction. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reaffirms their conclusions about the adverse effects of diets rich in sodium, particularly on blood pressure and consequently on the risk of cardiovascular disease.1 Worldwide, probably more than 26% of adults have hypertension and according to the WHO the cardiovascular diseases are the lead cause of death currently. For these reasons, all relevant sectors of the food area, consisting of public and private, are deeply involved in sodium reduction and are developing strategies and goals to achieve the decrease of sodium intake among the population. This presentation emphasizes the industry role in the product development and reformulation in order to reach the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) regional goals in sodium reduction. Development: Sodium plays an important role not only in human health but also on food choices. Has been known that sodium chloride is added to a wide of foods to increase their palatability, enhances flavor and even to the preservation and processability. Being fully aware of the sodium purpose, the scientific and marketing challenges of reducing salt turned complex. Consumers like the taste of salt. When given a choice between a well-salted and a lightly salted product people will generally express a preference for the well-salted one. In fact, when salt concentration of food is radically decreased, the consumer acceptance of these products decreases accordingly2. In addition, there are technological challenges like the role in preservation and structuring of products type of dressings, breads and meat. Some of the challenges faced on salt reduction of food products are: maintain taste, increase the availability of foods with reduced salt levels and take action to increase consumer awareness and desire for salt-reduced foods. Additionally, make ‘reduced salt’ claims appealing due to people often assume that less salt means less flavour and work in partnership to deliver successful local salt reduction activities. To ensure the reduction, some alternatives were developed. One of them is the adaptation by step-wise reduction that consisted of getting consumers accustomed to lower saltiness; Salt substitute type of use of mineral salts and maskers, indeed, it is current key tool for sodium reduction; Salt boosters; Multisensory principles such as use of salty odours, to enhance the salty taste with aromas, herbs and spices2. In spite of the industry be encouraged to reduce sodium levels in processed food, the consumer preference in saltiness products depends on the individuals habitual salt intake and preference. Summarizing, sodium reduction needs to be a cross-industry initiative with partnering to ensure people are stimulated to reduce salt in their diets altogether with the reduction in the products available in the market. Conclusion: Achieve the population salt intake of maximally 5 g/day is an urgent goal due to the increasing of cardiovascular diseases. In essence, studies have shown that the reduction should be induced both via product reformulation and behavior change in order to be effectively. In summary, given the challenges and strategies to reach this goal, it is believed that salt intakes reduction must be a shared responsibility of health authorities, salt interest groups, consumers and, equally important, the food industry. References :1. Dotsch-Klerk et al. Reducing salt in food; setting productspecific criteria aiming at a salt intake of 5 g per day. EJCN advance online públication, 18 February 2015; doi:10.1038/ ejcn.2015.5. 2. Dotsch M, Busch J, Batenburg M Liem, Gie, Tareilus E, Mueller R, Meijer G (2009). Strategies to Reduce Sodium Consumption: A food industry perspective, Critical Reviews. Food and Science Nutrition 2009; 49(10): 841-851.