Germany: Many meat products still contain too much salt

Product monitoring 2023 shows insufficient reduction efforts by the food industry. In sausages and other meat products, bread and small pastries as well as bars, sugar, fat and salt contents have largely hardly decreased since 2020; in some cases they have even increased. This is the result of the current product monitoring survey carried out by the Max Rubner Institute (MRI).

Posted on Jun 24 ,00:05

Germany: Many meat products still contain too much salt

The results show that, among other things, the target set by the food industry itself as part of the National Reduction and Innovation Strategy for Sugar, Fats and Salt in Ready-to-Eat Products (NRI) for reducing salt in heated meat products (e.g. b.Boiled sausage and cooked ham) was not achieved. Heavy consumption of processed foods with high sugar, fat or salt content can contribute to overweight and obesity as well as other diet-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. 

Even many products that explicitly appeal to children with their appearance still have high sugar, fat and salt contents: In the case of sausages, other meat products and bars, only a few products meet the criteria of the nutritional profile model of the World Health Organization (WHO) for marketing to children. The average salt content of bread and small baked goods is close to the target set by large bakeries - but efforts to reduce it have slackened. An additional evaluation of product monitoring also shows that in all three product groups evaluated for salt (bread and small baked goods, sausage products and other meat products), the proportion of products containing iodized salt has fallen since 2020. 

The Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Cem Özdemir explains: "Sausage is one of the most popular foods in Germany and is a traditional snack for many people. It is therefore all the more important that its consumption does not conflict with a balanced, sustainable diet. Product monitoring continues to show that many products contain too much salt, even those aimed specifically at children. Food companies could make a greater contribution to healthy nutrition here. Another point that worries me is the reduced use of iodized salt in the products examined. Here, too, the food industry can do more, because there is already a mild iodine deficiency in Germany". 

Overall, the MRI report states that the reduction efforts of the food industry are still not sufficient to support the goals - even those set by the industry itself - for a more balanced diet to the required extent.Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection has therefore, as provided for in the coalition agreement,MRIto develop a methodology for the science-based derivation of reduction targets for sugar, fats and salt in food. This is done in a broad stakeholder process with experts from various scientific disciplines, professional associations and the food industry. Children and young people are the main focus. A final report on the NRI will be published by theFederal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protectionwill be released in 2026. 

The President of theMRI, Pablo Steinberg , says: "The stakeholder process will be completed at the end of this year. The results from the working phase are currently being compiled and will be presented to a wider audience in mid-August 2024. The need for health-related reductions plays just as much a role as the technological challenges associated with food reformulation or food safety and consumer expectations. We are all the more pleased that the stakeholder process has succeeded in bringing together numerous experts. Only together can we master this challenging task".

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