Canada’s food and beverage manufacturers are making progress in voluntarily reducing the amount of sodium in the Canadian food supply while maintaining product safety, taste, texture and stability. While there continues to be challenges in this journey, Canadians today have more lower sodium food choices than ever.
Food and beverage manufacturers have been gradually reducing sodium for years. Close to 90 per cent of Food and Consumer Products Canada (FCPC) members surveyed in 2016 indicate they have products that meet the Health Canada targets established in 2010. A University of Toronto report measuring sodium reduction progress between 2010 and 2013 shows that six of the nine categories assessed have achieved significant sodium reduction and foods that have been reformulated have 10 to 30 per cent less sodium. Over three quarters of the foods evaluated in the report are below the maximum level identified in the Health Canada benchmark recommendations.
While progress has been made, reducing sodium in food is highly complex and there is still work to be done to meet Health Canada benchmarks. The safety of products and consumer acceptance are on-going challenges for many food manufacturers. And, managing consumer preferences for taste, texture and stability is difficult due to the lack of sodium substitutes in the marketplace. To continue to find viable replacement solutions, investment in research and development as well as faster timelines for approvals of acceptable sodium alternatives are necessary.
Investing in lower sodium options to help Canadians make more informed choices about the foods they eat is a priority for Canada’s food and beverage manufacturers. Food categories like breakfast cereals and soups now offer a significant number of products featuring sodium reduction claims (23% and 18% respectively). While obtaining a claim continues to be a challenge, many more food and beverage manufacturers have been able to reduce sodium over time.
Reading the Nutrition Facts Table is the best way for Canadians to learn about sodium and compare products to decide which products best meet their needs. Canadian food and beverage manufacturers partner with Health Canada to help educate Canadians about the Nutrition Facts table through the annual Nutrition Facts Education campaign. For more information about the Nutrition Facts Education campaign please click here.
2016 survey of FCPC members