Ayoub Al-Jawaldeh and Alexa Meyer

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pp. 143–176

3.4 Reformulating Food Products

Another approach to making healthy foods more readily available is presented in chapter 3.4: the reformulation of recipes of products that are major sources of nutrients whose intake should be limited like salt, sugar and trans fatty acids (TFAs). Indeed, high intake of salt and TFAs is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and certain cancer types, and the efficiency of reformulation to reduce salt and fat intake and their negative health effects is supported by a number of studies, some of which date back to the 1970s. The advantage of this measure is that consumption habits do not have to be changed. Initiatives have been taken all over the world to reduce the intake of salt and TFAs. In the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, policies for salt and TFA reduction have been implemented or a planned in fourteen countries, respectively. To support member states in this approach, WHO issued the SHAKE Technical Package for salt reduction and the REPLACE action framework for the elimination of TFAs. The first step should always be an assessment of the intake of salt or TFAs followed by setting targets for the allowed contents in foods. In the Eastern Mediterranean Region, most countries have done so for salt in bread and for TFAs in cooking fats and oils. Monitoring studies showed some successes but also a need for better enforcement of policies. Moreover, such actions have to be implemented by more countries.