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Nutrients 2017, 9(4), 404; doi:10.3390/nu9040404

The Sodium Content of Processed Foods in South Africa during the Introduction of Mandatory Sodium Limits

1
The George Institute for Global Health, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QX, UK
2
Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, USA
3
The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2050, Australia
4
Hypertension in Africa Research Team, North West University, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa
5
Discovery Vitality, Sandton 2146, South Africa
6
Center of Excellence for Nutrition, North West University, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa
7
School of Medicine, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia
8
Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
9
The Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
10
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, NSW 2050, Australia
11
Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 March 2017 / Revised: 7 April 2017 / Accepted: 17 April 2017 / Published: 20 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reducing Dietary Sodium and Improving Human Health)
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Abstract

Background: In June 2016, the Republic of South Africa introduced legislation for mandatory limits for the upper sodium content permitted in a wide range of processed foods. We assessed the sodium levels of packaged foods in South Africa during the one-year period leading up to the mandatory implementation date of the legislation. Methods: Data on the nutritional composition of packaged foods was obtained from nutrition information panels on food labels through both in-store surveys and crowdsourcing by users of the HealthyFood Switch mobile phone app between June 2015 and August 2016. Summary sodium levels were calculated for 15 food categories, including the 13 categories covered by the sodium legislation. The percentage of foods that met the government’s 2016 sodium limits was also calculated. Results: 11,065 processed food items were included in the analyses; 1851 of these were subject to the sodium legislation. Overall, 67% of targeted foods had a sodium level at or below the legislated limit. Categories with the lowest percentage of foods that met legislated limits were bread (27%), potato crisps (41%), salt and vinegar flavoured snacks (42%), and raw processed sausages (45%). About half (49%) of targeted foods not meeting the legislated limits were less than 25% above the maximum sodium level. Conclusion: Sodium levels in two-thirds of foods covered by the South African sodium legislation were at or below the permitted upper levels at the mandatory implementation date of the legislation and many more were close to the limit. The South African food industry has an excellent opportunity to rapidly meet the legislated requirements. View Full-Text
Keywords: salt intake; sodium legislation; South Africa; packaged food; nutritional composition salt intake; sodium legislation; South Africa; packaged food; nutritional composition
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MDPI and ACS Style

Peters, S.A.E.; Dunford, E.; Ware, L.J.; Harris, T.; Walker, A.; Wicks, M.; van Zyl, T.; Swanepoel, B.; Charlton, K.E.; Woodward, M.; Webster, J.; Neal, B. The Sodium Content of Processed Foods in South Africa during the Introduction of Mandatory Sodium Limits. Nutrients 2017, 9, 404.

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