Created on 1/19/2018 4:10:55 PM
Canada’s food and beverage industry has been gradually and responsibly reducing the amount of sodium in the food supply for many years, to help Canadians lower their sodium intake. The release of a Health Canada evaluation of food industry efforts to meet ambitious voluntary sodium reduction targets recognizes that there is still room for improvement.
It is important to remember, however, that lowering sodium levels in food and beverage products is a complex undertaking; a balance between technical feasibility and consumer acceptance, requiring both time and flexibility to achieve. It is also important to note that consumers now benefit from increasing variety and choice in the marketplace based in part to industry efforts to provide lower sodium versions of many popular products.
Sodium has a number of uses for which suitable alternatives must be developed. In addition to enhancing taste, sodium plays a functional role in food safety, preservation and texture. It hinders the growth of microorganisms and plays a role in food safety. It also aids in achieving the desired fermentation in certain products and helps promote proper texture and bind in processed meats and poultry. Lowering sodium levels also requires adjusting consumers’ tastes and preferences for sodium which can often require smaller reductions over time as consumers adapt to each successive reduction.
The time required to reduce sodium is not a unique issue; every country in the world that is implementing sodium reduction strategies, particularly the U.S. and UK, have identified the time required as a key factor for success.
FCPC looks forward to continued discussions with Health Canada regarding existing challenges with sodium reduction in foods and industry efforts to achieve targets looking forward. We also look forward to collaborating with government and other stakeholders to support investment in research and development into sodium alternatives, further research into understanding consumer acceptance and proactive consumer education that supports the changes underway.
Michi Furuya Chang, MHSc, RD
Senior Vice President, Nutrition, Public & Regulatory Affairs
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