Public Health Nutrition

Public policies

The Australian Food and Health Dialogue – the implications of the sodium recommendation for pasta sauces

Helen Trevenaa1a2 c1, Elizabeth Dunforda1, Bruce Neala1 and Jacqueline Webstera1

a1 The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, PO Box M201, Missenden Road, Camperdown, Sydney, NSW 2050, Australia

a2 School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


Objective To assess the change in Na content of Australian pasta sauces between 2008 and 2011. A secondary objective was to project the mean Na content of these same products in 2014 using the Australian Food and Health Dialogue Na commitment and compare projections with the 2012 UK Na target for pasta sauce.

Design Na data were collected from the product labels of pasta sauce products. Mean Na content was calculated for 2008 and 2011 and change assessed. Projected mean values for 2014 were derived by applying a 15 % reduction to the 2011 products above the ‘action point’ of 420 mg Na/100 g, consistent with the Food and Health Dialogue commitment (scenario 1). A 15 % reduction was applied to products already below the ‘action point’ (scenario 2). Projections were compared with the 2012 UK target.

Setting Na data for pasta sauce products in Australian supermarkets (July–September) in 2008 and 2011.

Subjects Not applicable.

Results Data were available for 124 (2008) and 187 (2011) products, and mean Na levels were not significantly different (451 mg/100 g v. 423 mg/100 g; P = 0·16). The projected means (381 mg Na/100 g in scenario 1; 375 mg Na/100 g in scenario 2) exceeded the 2012 UK target (330 mg Na/100 g) and to attain this would require a 22 % reduction from 2011 levels.

Conclusions There is little evidence that all Australian manufacturers of pasta sauces systematically reduced the Na content of their products between 2008 and 2011. Even if all manufacturers achieve the current voluntary commitment by 2014, average salt levels in Australian products would still be above the 2012 UK target.

(Received November 04 2012)

(Revised May 12 2013)

(Accepted May 29 2013)

(Online publication July 18 2013)


  • Food industry;
  • Salt reduction targets;
  • Blood pressure


c1 Corresponding author: Email