Move over sugar, salt is the new public-enemy-number-one.

Auckland University said food manufacturers and consumers need to lower the amount of salt in food by at least 30 per cent in order to meet a salt reduction target set by the World Health Organisation.

The target is aimed at reducing the incidence of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

It says a 36 per cent reduction in salt in packaged foods, and 40 per cent less added to food, will reduce total salt intake by 35 per cent.


White bread, hard cheese and sausages are on the hit-list of foods needing salt reductions - with breakfast cereals needing the biggest cut.

Lowering salt in ready-to-eat breakfast cereals by more than half, is top of the menu.

Katherine Rich, chief executive at New Zealand Food and Grocery Council, said her members had worked with the Heart Foundation to reduce the amount of sodium in products over the past few decades.

"When bakers started working with the Heart Foundation sodium levels in bread were 550mg of sodium per 100g of bread. Working together it was reduced to 400mg."

She said work was continuing to try and get the level to below 300mg.

"Many people do consume too much salt so it's something that everyone should think about."

She added that changes had to be done slowly over time, otherwise consumers would complain the taste had changed.

"A number of reduced salt products launched over the last 10 years have flopped because consumers didn't like the taste."

- additional reporting by NZ Herald