Salt Action Summary
WASH supports the Bill to Implement Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada
OTTAWA (January 31, 2013) Debate Begins in Parliament on Bill to Implement Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada
Lowering Sodium Would Save 16,000 Lives [i], $3 Billion [ii] Annually
— Debate is scheduled to begin tomorrow in the House of Commons on Bill C-460, Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada Act. Bill Jeffery made the following comment at a news conference in the Centre Block of the House of Commons:
Bill Jeffery is the National Coordinator of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, which is a non-profit health advocacy organization focusing on nutrition issues. The Ottawa office is supported largely by nearly 100,000 Canadian subscribers to the Nutrition Action Healthletter. CSPI does not accept any funding from industry or government. Bill Jeffrey was part of Minister Aglukkaq’s 25-person Sodium Working Group that unanimously proposed the strategy that is at the heart of Bill C-460.
This year, as many as 16,000 Canadians will die needlessly from heart attacks, heart failure, and strokes caused by excess dietary sodium, three-quarters of which is added to foods by food manufacturers and restaurants. Something has to be done.
CSPI strongly supports Bill C-460. In doing so, they join at least 35 other health groups and experts.
The need to reduce sodium in the food supply is recognized by the World Health Organization, the US Institute of Medicine, and a unanimous Political Declaration of the United Nations General Assembly.
The interim goal of reducing average sodium intake from about 3,400 mg per person per day to 2,300 has been embraced by the Prime Minister and premiers. Provincial Health ministers even called for Health Canada to draft regulations in case voluntary measures failed.
Unfortunately, the voluntary approach has failed. Food companies have even failed to report on their sodium-reduction efforts to the Federal Government, as shown last June when Health Canada’s progress report relied on three-year-old data that its own officials had to painstakingly gather. Bill C-460 would ensure better accountability of companies to their customers and to the government. Without the bill,
• food manufacturers and restaurants will continue to hide from consumers unsafe levels of sodium in their foods; and
• provincial governments will continue to be saddled with high Medicare bills for sodium-related treatment costs and productivity losses.
We urge all MPs to quickly enact the Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada Act.
For information: Contact Bill Jeffery at 613-244-7337 (x 1) or firstname.lastname@example.org and see http://www.cspinet.org/canada/foodsodium.html See the joint-statement in support of Bill C-460 endorsed by nearly three dozen experts and health groups at: http://cspinet.org/canada/pdf/jan30-2013.c-460.jointstatement.pdf
Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada which was recommended, unanimously, to the Minister of Health in July 2010:
Bill C-460, Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada Act, introduced in the House of Commons in November 2012: http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/hoc/Bills/411/Private/C-460/C-460_1/C-460_1.PDF
Note to editors: Respected scientific bodies have called for regulations mandating gradual reductions of sodium in processed foods, including a report of a U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) panel, chaired by a former head of the US Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Jane E. Henney. That committee concluded that more than 40 years of voluntary actions were an abysmal failure. Much federal and provincial government nutrition policy is based on reports of the IOM. See: Henney JE, Chair. Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States. I.O.M. Washington. 2010. Available on-line at: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12818 Also, the World Health Organization concluded in its 2007 report: “In countries where there have been recommended goals but little or no progress, it may now be time for legislative action to be enforced with an adequate monitoring system.” See: WHO. Reducing Salt in Populations: A report of WHO Forum and Technical Meeting. Paris/Geneva. 2007 at PDF p. 42. Available on-line at: http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/reducingsaltintake_EN.pdf
Health Canada quietly released sodium reduction guidelines for the food industry in early June.
Please click here to read full report
United Nations Food Law Body Advances Global Standard for Mandatory Nutrition Labelling
OTTAWA (May 18, 2012)—The Codex Food Labelling Committee, a United Nations subsidiary group, has proposed a global standard for mandatory nutrition labelling for adoption by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in Rome this July. Some 220 delegates from 63 countries participated in the Ottawa Committee meeting. CSPI’s National Coordinator, Bill Jeffery, LLB, who negotiated on behalf of the International Association of Consumer Food Organizations (IACFO), made the following statement:
Adopting a global standard for mandatory nutrition labelling is one of the most important public health advances in the modern history of global food law. Poor nutrition—too much sodium, risky blood cholesterol and glucose levels, inadequate fruit and vegetable intake, and excess abdominal body fat—causes more than 20 percent of all deaths globally, or about 14 million annually. It makes sense to ensure that consumers get objective nutrition information on labels. Universal nutrition labelling can help better inform consumers, spur companies to market more nutritious products, and serve as a building block for other public health nutrition measures, such as aligning food taxes with nutrition advice, implementing school nutrition standards, and monitoring food companies’ compliance with trans fat and sodium-reduction goals.
The move by Codex will help hasten the adoption of national nutrition labelling laws in the 80 percent of the 194 United Nations member countries that do not now require nutrition labels. Codex rules generally act as a ceiling, not a floor, for national health and consumer protection; governments are reluctant to risk having stronger national standards undermined by WTO challenges.
Regrettably, the Committee makes standards by following global trends in national laws, rather than driving them and, this year, rejected calls to modify the standard to help countries to mandate easier-to-understand front-of-pack nutrition labelling using familiar colour-coding (e.g., traffic lights red, yellow and green) and numerical ratings, which would help consumers easily locate the healthiest packaged foods.
Last September, a High Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly unanimously pledged to:
“…reduce the impact of…unhealthy diet… through the implementation of relevant international agreements and strategies, and education, legislative, regulatory and fiscal measures.”
Codex does help consolidate progress made by individual member countries on nutrition laws, but may not be up to the task of driving change and eliminating WTO obstacles to national policy innovation. A framework convention on nutrition and food marketing, analogous to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, may be necessary to fulfill the UN disease prevention goals in a timely fashion.
Ottawa and Queen’s Park Consider Mandating Nutrition Info on Menus of Chain-Restaurant Menus
OTTAWA (May 8, 2012)— Bill Jeffery, LLB, National Coordinator of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, made the following comment on initiatives in the Ottawa Board of Health (its HEAL Strategy) and a provincial Private Member’s Bill to be introduced in the Ontario Legislature today:
While federal politicians still ponder proposals to require nutrition information on restaurant menus, chains throughout the United States soon will be required to list calories on menus and officials in the City of Ottawa and Queen’s Park will consider requiring calorie and sodium information on menus. Even professional dietitians can’t accurately estimate calorie and sodium levels in restaurant fare. A report published by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest in February, Writing on the Wall: Time to put nutrition information on restaurant menus, showed that restaurant foods are generally high in calories and sodium and that two-fold and five-fold variations, respectively, are common even within similar product categories at the same restaurants. Many health-conscious consumers would choose differently and restaurants might change recipes if calories and sodium information were displayed right on menus. Consider that:
• Tim Hortons Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich had nearly double the calories (530 calories) of the English Muffin with Egg and Cheese (280 Calories);
• McDonald’s Angus Bacon & Cheese Sandwich has nearly triple the sodium (1,990 mg) of the Big Xtra Sandwich (700 mg).
Two large studies—one of 8,000 New York chain-restaurant customers and one of 100 million Starbucks transaction records—indicated that 11%-14% reductions in calories ordered can be expected, with bigger effects demonstrated among people who report reading the labels and for food (as opposed to beverages).
Today, CSPI released a statement calling for calorie and sodium labelling at chain restaurants that was signed by 24 health groups and experts, including the Canadian Diabetes Association, Canadian Stroke Network, Hypertension Canada, Canadian Women’s Health Network, Dietitians of Canada, Childhood Obesity Foundation, Fitness Industry Council of Canada, and Public Health Physicians of Canada.
Despite the federal government’s recent rejection of proposals by provincial and territorial health ministers to reduce sodium in the Canadian diet, implementation of some of the proposals has been initiated – at least in Ontario. On February 16th and 17th the Ontario Medical Association, Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Ottawa Heart Institute convened a two-day summit in Toronto to discuss how the recommendations of the Sodium Working Group’s Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada could be acted upon in Ontario. The meeting brought together some 60 experts, including several members of the now disbanded Sodium Working Group. “Lots can be accomplished at the provincial level,” said CSN’s Kevin Willis. “Food procurement policy for schools and other provincially funded institutions, public education, and information on the sodium content of restaurant foods are examples of actions that can be taken at a provincial level.” Dr. Willis presented the CSN’s work on national sodium education initiatives at the meeting. The organizers of the Summit and participants committed to build and sustain action on sodium in Ontario and an Ontario Sodium Working Group has been formed. The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) is helping to lead the charge. See “Salt” on the OMA website www.oma.org
The Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), an independant North American health advocacy organisation, published a new report 'Writing on the wall: Time to put nutrition information on restaurant menus'. The report drawing from nutrition brochures available on the website's of those restaurants, reports the two lowest-calorie and two highest-calorie menu items in 14 common food categories, including appetizers, children’s menu items, and sandwiches. It also reports sodium levels for low- and high-sodium foods in 11 food categories (omitting desserts, cold drinks, and hot drinks). The generally high levels of calories and sodium and the surprisingly wide range of both demonstrate the need to provide that information on menus and menu boards.
“The calories and sodium in these popular restaurant meals is a recipe for obesity, heart disease, stroke, and other diet-related illnesses,” said CSPI national coordinator Bill Jeffery. “Consumers need nutrition information on these chains’ menus and menu boards so they can make the right choices for themselves and their children,” he added.
Please click here to view the full report
Concerns are being raised as the Canadian Sodium Working Group (SWG) was disbanded by the Minister of Health in December 2010 some of its responsibilities transferred to the newly formed Food Regulatory Advisory Committee, who have strong ties to the food industry. Bill Jeffrey, the national coordinator of the Ottawa‐based Centre for Science in the Public Interest, recently voiced his concern over the apparent lack of commitment by the Federal Government to promptly and energetically implement the SWG’s 33 consensus recommendations after more than 6 months since the SWG’s report: ‘The sodium reduction strategy for Canada’. In order to save lives, not to mention billions of healthcare dollars, the Federal Government need to do more than just suggest that they support the recommendation, they need to take action.
Click here to read Bill Jeffrey’s letter to the Canadian Government
Click here to visit the health Canada website to follow this story.
The Canadian Stroke Network is busy keeping the pressure on and encouraging consumers to make lower salt choices. It is currently estimated that the average consumption of sodium in Canada is 3,400mg per day (8.5g salt) from all sources.
Click here to visit the NEW Sodium 101 website
Sodium Working group disbanded by the Minister of Health in Canada.
OTTAWA After 2½ years of deliberation, the 25-member expert Sodium Working group published its report, Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada, in Ottawa.
Recent editorial from Dr Ken Flegal and Dr Peter Magner in the Canadian Medical Association Journal drew attention to the magnitude of the potential health benefits of salt reduction, estimating that salt reduction could decrease hypertension prevalence from 3.5million to 2.2 million. The editorial urges Canadians to take action by reading labels and demanding low salt food.
The world’s leading scientific and medial specialists are meeting to discuss cardiovascular health at the International Society of Hypertension in Vancouver, 2010. Discussion is underway with the University of Calgary, WASH and the World Hypertension League to hold a salt symposium at the event.
In early September WASH held a meeting with Dr Norm Campbell and his new colleague Jocelyne Bellerive of the University of Calgary in our London offices to share the work of WASH and to discuss future strategy for salt reduction work in Canada. WASH was informed of the hypertension education programme themed around sodium, which is communicated through primary care centres.
The Federally funded Canadian Stroke network has launched a new website to promote salt reduction www.sodium101.ca.
As well as providing useful information in both English and Canadian French, the website offers fridge magnets and shopping guides, which have been very successful with more than 10,000 requests from consumers. The website launch was supported with an awareness media campaign.
A federally appointed working group in Canada are proposing to adopt a version of a new British salt-reduction strategy that has already begun to show results. According to Statistics Canada, 85 per cent of Canadian men, and 60 per cent of women, consume sodium above the upper daily limit of 2,300 milligrams. The overseeing Working group includes Kevin Willis and Professor Norm Campbell.
World Salt Awareness Week
Cathy Campbell and Kevin Willis of the Canadian Stroke Network in Canada, undertook a number of activities. The CSN partnered up with two of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence – the Canadian Obesity Network and the Advanced foods and materials Network – to award the first national ‘Salt Lick’ Award for the saltiest kid’s meal, and received extensive coverage in newspapers, on TV and on the radio.
25 October 2007
Canada announced a National Sodium Policy
A National Sodium Policy statement has been announced in Canada urging reductions in the amount of sodium in processed and packaged foods. The news conference involved a coalition of 17 Canadian health groups and professional associations incl. Canadian Stroke Network Scientific Director Antoine Hakim, Senator Wilbert Keon, President of the Canadian Medical Association Bill Tholl and President of Blood Pressure Canada Norm Campbell and received high visibility in the media.
Dr Norman Campbell, from the University of Calgary, was appointed the first Canadian Chair in Hypertension Prevention and Control in 2006. One of his major aims will be to get a reduction in salt intake in Canada.
He has been given a five year mandate to reduce the amount of salt added by the food industry and this will be his major priority. Already the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada is currently in negotiations with several companies to reduce the concentration of salt in their processed foods. In addition, many other organisations are supportive of a low salt diet, namely the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada and the Canadian Hypertension Education Program. However, one major problem is that much of the processed food consumed in Canada is manufactured in the USA and there is an urgent need for a similar programme in the USA.