High sodium intake increases blood pressure and consequently increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In Australia, the best estimate of sodium intake is 3840 mg sodium/day, almost double the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline (2000 mg/day), and processed meats contribute approximately 10% of daily sodium intake to the diet. This study assessed the median sodium levels of 2510 processed meat products, including bacon and sausages, available in major Australian supermarkets in 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2017, and assessed changes over time. The median sodium content of processed meats in 2017 was 775 mg/100 g (interquartile range (IQR) 483–1080). There was an 11% reduction in the median sodium level of processed meats for which targets were set under the government’s Food and Health Dialogue (p
< 0.001). This includes bacon, ham/cured meat products, sliced luncheon meat and meat with pastry categories. There was no change in processed meats without a target (median difference 6%, p
= 0.450). The new targets proposed by the current government’s Healthy Food Partnership capture a larger proportion of products than the Food and Health Dialogue (66% compared to 35%) and a lower proportion of products are at or below the target (35% compared to 54%). These results demonstrate that voluntary government targets can drive nutrient reformulation. Future efforts will require strong government leadership and robust monitoring and evaluation systems.
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