Reducing salt, fat and sugar in processed food

Many processed and manufactured foods and drinks are high in sugar, salt or saturated fat. These ingredients can cause many health problems. Find out what we’re doing to reduce sugar, salt and saturated fat in processed and manufactured foods and drinks.

Improving nutrition in processed food

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating a wide variety of nutritious foods from the 5 food groups to stay healthy. The foods in these groups include:

  • unprocessed foods, like fruit and vegetables
  • processed or manufactured foods, like bread, yoghurt or tofu.

Australians also have access to many processed and manufactured foods that are not part of those food groups and that their bodies don’t need. These discretionary foods are often high in energy and contain high amounts of sugar, salt and saturated fat.

Too much of these foods can lead to overweight and obesity and cause health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. But people often choose discretionary foods over more nutritious foods.

Being tasty and convenient, processed and manufactured foods are a big part of most people’s diet. So, making them healthier by lowering their sugar, salt and saturated fat content provides a great opportunity to improve public health.

We are working with the food industry to make processed foods and drinks healthier, and to ensure the labelling helps people make informed choices.

Health Star Rating

The voluntary Health Star Rating system rates the nutritional value of packaged foods from half a star to 5 stars – the more stars, the healthier the choice. This gives us a quick and easy way to compare the nutritional value of similar foods – such as different types of breakfast cereal. More than 10,000 packaged products have health stars.

Healthy Food Partnership

The Healthy Food Partnership brings together the public health sector and the food industry. Together we are working to tackle overweight and obesity, encourage healthy eating, and enable food manufacturers to provide healthier choices.

Partnership Reformulation Program

The Partnership Reformulation Program is helping to reduce the amount of sugar, sodium and saturated fat in processed and manufactured foods and drinks. It is part of the Healthy Food Partnership.

The first phase began in July 2020, to reduce sodium from 41 food categories and saturated fat from 5 food categories. Products targeted in this phase include various types of bread, cheese, savoury snacks and processed meat.

In 2021, we expanded the program to a further 14 food categories, with sugar reduction targets for 9 food categories and sodium reduction targets for 3 food categories.

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