When searching for low sodium
products I am continuing to come across products where there is
wrong with the sodium labeling. There
seems to be far too many mistakes in general for example oils
where 100ml is said to contain around 100g of fat(* see note 5). The level of sodium should be of
concern to everybody as it is recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for
Australia that we choose foods low in sodium. Low is defined as
products with 120mg/100g or below. Taste alone is not a reliable
guide so the printed sodium level is of vital
importance, especially to people with some serious medical conditions like heart
failure and Meniere's. If you want to know why salt (sodium) in food is
problem see SALT MATTERS
Products with incorrect sodium labeling hang around for months
sometimes years. The sooner we consumers weed them out the better. To
those responsible for the labeling of products my advice is to please:
it right first time.
Double check before you put a label
product that harms people, costs you money and diminishes the
reputation of your company. Manufactures-- all of checks below
should be applied to each of your ingredients if you are going to rely
on calculations to determine the sodium level of your product. Why not
consider getting a final Lab. test of the sodium level. The cost is a
paltry $33 inc GST and is a tax deductible expense.
WHERE TO GET INFORMATION
There is plenty of information
available on preparing nutrition labels at FOOD STANDARDS AUSTRALIA
& NEW ZEALAND. Look for
the "Food Standards Code" button. http://www.foodstandards.gov.au
If there is no
nutrition panel there should be a good reason. Check the
first two links above.(*see note (5))
nutrition panel does not have a sodium
line report or fix it.
If the sodium is not shown as
mg report or fix it. Sodium can in
addition be shown as an a
mmol value. (*see note(1))
sodium level is 0.0mg and it
is not a pure product report or fix it. Almost everything has some sodium -- sugar and some pure products are the exception.
If it has less sodium
other similar products
suspect it. Suspect it more the further away from normal it is.
Labels that show sodium of
120mg/100g or less and
are not marked "No added salt" or "Reduced Salt" should get extra scrutiny.
If it mentions salt
(*see note(2)) in the ingredients list
Suspect it more the further up the list you find the salt.
If you can taste salt in
the product suspect it. Note the in
you may be able to taste salt at
these levels if it is on
If the word "salt" or
"salted" is part of the product name
If baking powder,
raising agent (500) or bicarbonate of soda
is mentioned suspect it. Suspect it more if it is without a
lot of sweet filling or sauce *(see note (3)). There are many additives
that contain sodium. See the list here Additives that contain sodium
If you have a
laboratory report or a product specification sheet
from another company double check the level if any of the above
apply. An additional sodium test should cost less than $40.
If you are using overseas
information tripple check that they and you have the decimal point in
the correct place. *(see note (4))
*Note(1) 1 mmol of sodium equals 23mg
*Note(2) If you are lucky the ingredients list may
give the % of salt. 1% salt = 388mg of sodium per 100g
*Note(3) Some products such
as packet mixes give the sodium of
the food as prepared and a dry packet of salty mix may end up as a
small amount of salty cake floating on a low salt sauce giving a lower
sodium level overall. Do not forget to consider the sodium from any
ingredients that are specified like eggs, milk, water etc. (A 59g
egg has approx.
69mg of sodium)
*Note(4) Many products have had
decimal mix ups like .6g translated to 6mg instead of 600mg
and this occurred here and overseas. *Note(5)
Small packages need not have a nutrition panel but if they are labelled
No Added Salt or similar they must show the sodium per 100g.
EXAMPLES Hover the cursor on
the picture to see result.
Ketjap Manis is a thick soy type sauce.
The ingredients list showed Salt and Sodium benzoate (211).
It tastes strongly of salt.
0 mg is
Competitors similar biscuits showed 500mg/100g.
These pickled onions tasted salty.
Chocolate coated gingerbreads with apricot filling.
This could be a low sodium product but who knows when it is shown as
"less than 1g" which contravenes the standard. Sodium should be in mg
and "Less than" is only allowed
for levels lower than 5mg.
This is a sticker on the imported product. The
original packing did
not list sodium.
costing under $40 would provide an accurate answer.
Glucose syrup surprisingly has a
sodium sodium level of 138mg/100g.
If the label of this tomato soup was correct it would be the lowest
canned soup in Australia.
A serving would give a person only 19% of their daily sodium allowance
if they were
restricted to 1000mg. The manufacturer knew of the problem by July 2005
but I was still able to buy some the other day (10/4/06).
There is no salt shown and the acidity regulator is citric acid (a non
sodium additive) so this
may be a low sodium product but the sodium level of 0·1mg/100g
is impossible and casts doubt on the product and the company
With 1% salt this tomato paste should be 388mg
plus some for the actual
tomato paste. A no added salt tomato paste has about 50mg/100g so you
would expect 388 + 50 i.e. 438mg/100g not the 20mg/100g shown.
Not all levels of sodium are understated.
18.2 mmol equates to 418mg of sodium.
Balsamic vinegar is recommended as a flavorsome product for people on
low sodium diets.
The importer checked with the manufacturer and the correct value
of 33mg/100g will be on new labels.
If the products only nutrition
label is like this report it for not
conforming to the Australian standard.
But it is not a good example to try and understand.
How can there be more Total fat for a 2000 calorie diet than for a 2500
3.5g of fiber is not 9.83% of the 25g shown for a 2000 calorie diet.
It looks like there is no sodium and this may be true as 0% could be
shown because of rounding down if the sodium in a serve was less than
·5% of the
reference diet amount of 2400 i.e. 12mg/100g serve or less. But
ingredients show "Butter Beans, Water, Salt, Food acid (330). Normally
just the mention of salt means 100mg/100g or more.
This label had the Australian importers address on it so I presume it
was printed specially for Australia. It has obvious mistakes ("Less
man" should be "Less than") for a start. With this sort of quality
control it is hard to trust the sodium level.
I hope that after reading the above you can determine if these Ginger
Kisses are labeled correctly.
I have many many more examples.
I am always on the look out for incorrectly labeled products. If you
think you have found one please let me know.
To contact me use the Mail button on my index