Resource Centre Unilever Nutrition and Health Foodies Roadshow

The Unilever Health and Nutrition team held a foodies roadshow for dieticians and nutritionists in South Africa. In August, the team visited Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The discussion of the morning was all about salt reduction and salt replacement. The morning commenced with a focus on communicating why it is so important to lower our salt intake. We then heard about the newly published salt regulations which require the industry to meet certain benchmarks, dependant on which category the food falls into. The targets were compared to current salt levels, potential technical issues and cost that the industry will be challenged with. Salt Watch shared their communication strategy with us as part of their strategy to change the behaviour of consumers in South Africa as 40% of our salt intake is added at home, during cooking or at the table. We ended the morning off by introducing Chef Wendy who demonstrated how to use seasonings as salt replacers.

The following presenters supported our event:

For each leg of our road show, we had a different speaker focusing on the topic of salt, hypertension, and why lowering our intake is necessary. Suna Kassier presented in Durban, Celeste Naude in Cape Town and Prof Hettie Schönfeldt in Johannesburg.

Nigel Sunley discussed the salt regulations, what they mean, and the challenges that may arise in meeting these targets. Nigel has both local and international experience with consulting specifically on technical matters regarding food science and to regulatory issues.

From the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, Erika Ketterer presented on behaviour change and how South Africa is making use of salt. As a member of the Salt Watch group, she gave us insight into the huge task that we have as health care professionals in educating the consumers about salt reduction and she shared what Salt Watch plans on doing over the next few years in order to combat the amount of salt that we, as South Africans, use on a daily basis.

We also shared some tools that Unilever has developed to help with consumer education. The first is a poster on tips to reduce salt intake and what you can use instead of salt to flavour your food.

The second tool was a Fruttare snack-o-meter which shows various snacks on an ‘energy meter’, displaying snacks with less energy compared to those with more energy.

The third tool, and one which the team is very proud of, was our Recipe Cards with nutritional information contained on each card. This is to inspire both the health care professional, as well as their patients, to prepare more meals at home.