Sodium and Saturated Fat Levels in Meat Products in the Netherlands: An Evaluation Based on Label Information
European Journal of Nutrition & Food Safety,
Aim: To collate and analyse label information on nutrients for meat products (used as sandwich fillings) in the Netherlands, using a standardised methodology established by the Global Food Monitoring Group. The objective was to compare levels of saturated fat (in g/100 grams) and sodium (in mg/100 grams) from 2011-2015 and to evaluate reformulation targets for sodium and saturated fat levels that were due to be met by January 1, 2015.
Study Design: Data collection study.
Place and Duration: Data collection in two supermarkets in the Netherlands for one month.
Methodology: Data were collected by photographing the Nutrition Information Panels (NIPs), front-of-pack communications (Guideline Daily Amounts, health logos) and other back-of-pack information from product labels of processed foods in-store using smartphone technology. Photos were uploaded to a central database where data were entered and checked and cleaned manually. Levels of sodium and saturated fat were calculated and compared with data available from reformulation monitoring reports and with the reformulation targets of the meat sector.
Results: Data were collected for 911 processed meat products, with data available for 863 meat products after data cleaning, and 86% (n=745) displaying a NIP. Sodium levels in 2015 were similar compared to concentrations observed in previous years for all subcategories of meat products. For saturated fat, combined heated meat products' saturated fat content was 8 g/100g (SD=3) based on label information in 2015 compared with 10 g/100g (SD=3) based on the label and chemical analyses information of 2014: P<0.001. The percentages of products (2015) which complied with the reformulation targets ranged per product category from 14%-93% for sodium levels and 25%-88% for saturated fat levels. Only a small percentage of meats displayed a health logo (2%) or Guideline Daily Amounts (15%) on the label.
Conclusion: Based on the comparison we observed no progress with sodium reductions and little progress with saturated fat reductions in the Netherlands between 2011 and 2015 in processed meat products. In light of the Netherlands’ reformulation covenant of 2014, focus on nutrient levels of meat products could contribute to help meet the national commitment to reduce sodium and saturated fat levels. This method of evaluation could also be used for other product categories to monitor progress and to ultimately decrease the burden of nutrition-associated diseases in the country.
- Label information
- saturated fat
- meat products
- Nutrition Information Panels (NIPs).
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