FGC challenges claims on sodium levels

FGC challenged a paper published in Nutrients Journal (28 May) by academics from the University of Auckland.

The paper concluded that only very slow progress had been made in lowering sodium levels in food products, that levels fell far short of WHO recommended levels, and that a renewed focus across the food sector was needed in New Zealand was to meet its United Nations commitments.

In a response published in the journal (17 July), FGC pointed that the difficulties of undertaking such research, coupled with the research design and subsequent data interpretation, meant the conclusion was not justified, that significant changes were masked by the aggregation in the analyses presented, and that the research could not defensibly be used to justify the calls it made.

The journal has since responded (20 July) to FGC’s letter, taking issue with three points but not addressing many others.

The journal has now closed the debate, saying:

Nutrients does not, as a rule, encourage debate on the content of its publications via Letters to the Editor. We made an exception in this case, however, by publishing a Letter to the Editor from Katherine Rich, representing New Zealand food manufacturers. Her letter challenged the inference in a recent paper by Monro et al. that too little has been done to lower the sodium content of foods in New Zealand. The response … from Eyles et al. to Rich’s Letter concludes the exchange, which reminds us that the challenge of achieving international recommendations on reduction of sodium intake is multi-sectorial; the responsibility must be shared with government policy makers, educators, food manufacturers and retailers, the catering industry and ultimately with consumers, who can choose to eat available foods with high or low sodium content.”

Nutrients Open Access Human Nutrition Journal is based in Basel, Switzerland

Read University of Auckland original paper here

Read FGC’s response here

Read University of Auckland response to FGC letter here