Norway

Salt Action Summary

February 2009

In Norway health authorities have recommended a reduction in dietary salt intake since the beginning of the 1980s. The current recommendation given by the Directorate for Health and Social Affairs in collaboration with the National Nutrition Council in 2005 is:

A gradual reduction in the average intake of salt to 5 g/day is desirable in the long term. In a shorter time perspective the population target is 6 g/d for women and 7 g/d for men. The salt intake should also be limited for children. For children below two years of age salt intake should not exceed 1.25 g/MJ (239 kcal), in order to prevent children becoming accustomed to a diet with a high salt content.

Actions

Advice concerning salt intake has been included in general public information since the 1980s. Additionally, in the 1980s and early 90s there were a number of initiatives to reduce population salt intake including:

  • The National Nutrition Council held two national conferences with representatives from the food industry, non-governmental organisations and experts in nutrition and health. The first conference was in 1984 - "How can we help the consumers to reduce their salt intake?", the second conference was in 1987 - "Salt in the food". The aim of the conferences was to increase the awareness of the health implications of salt intake and to discuss how the industry could help consumers to reduce their salt intake by reducing the salt content of their food products.
  • In some parts of Norway the local food control authorities started projects where they encouraged the local food industry and bakers to reduce the salt content in their bread and meat products by doing repeated salt analysis of their products. They had some success; some of the producers reduced the salt in their products.
  • In the beginning of the 1990s the National Nutrition Council approached the National Food Control Authority, requesting that maximum levels of salt in certain food groups such as meat products and cheeses be set. The Council also asked the Food Authority to introduce mandatory declaration of salt content in foods. However, at present there is no regulations regarding salt content in foods, and it is not a legal obligation to label the salt content of food products. The National Nutrition Council has recently repeated its request for declaration of salt content in foods.
  • The Government launched a Norwegian action plan on nutrition 2007-2011. One of several goals is to reduce salt intake. As ¾ of salt intake is estimated to come from processed foods, the industry’s addition of salt in products and how they label salt content is important.
  • Norwegian food industry and authorities has on joint meetings in 2007 and 2008 discussed how to decrease salt content of foods and salt intake.
  • Norway participates since 2007 in "The high level group on nutrition and physical activity" within the EU. A framework for national salt initiative has been developed describing a common vision for a general European approach towards salt reduction I 2008. The initiative is voluntary.
  • Norway participates since 2008 in the European Salt Action Network.
  • Sweden, Denmark and Norway have agreed on a Nordic food labelling symbol, known as the "keyhole" that will be implemented in 2009. The aim of the label is to help consumers to make healthier food choices. The labelling system includes several nutritional criteria, including maximum levels for salt content.