Objective: To define the effectiveness of recent efforts by the Australian Division of World Action on Salt and Health, and the Heart Foundation in New Zealand to reduce sodium levels in breads in Australia and New Zealand.
Design and setting: Data on the sodium contents of packaged sliced bread products sold in Australian and New Zealand supermarkets were collected from the product labels of 157 breads in 2007 and 167 breads in 2010, and were compared overall, by bread type, by manufacturer, and between nations.
Main outcome measures: Mean sodium values in bread and proportions of breads meeting the targets of 400 mg/100 g in Australia and 450 mg/100 g in New Zealand.
Results: Overall mean sodium content in bread in Australia was 434 mg/100 g in 2007 and 435 mg/100 g in 2010; corresponding values for New Zealand were 469 mg/100 g and 439 mg/100 g. The proportion of Australian breads meeting the national target increased from 29% in 2007 to 50% in 2010; the proportion of New Zealand breads meeting the national target increased from 49% in 2007 to 90% in 2010. There were clear differences between the results achieved by different companies.
Conclusions: Voluntary efforts by non-governmental organisations have had some impact on sodium levels in bread, particularly in New Zealand. However, substantial room for further improvement remains. If additional reductions are not achieved under the current voluntary arrangements, legislated approaches may be required.