Norwegian government strikes deal with food vendors on salt in meat

By Gerard O’Dwyer, in Helsinki

- Last updated on GMT

The decision has been made to address the rising problem of cardiovascular disease in the country
The decision has been made to address the rising problem of cardiovascular disease in the country

Related tags: Ground beef, Supermarket, Norway, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Poultry

Negotiations between grocery food chains in Norway and the country’s ministry of health have resulted in a landmark voluntary agreement under which food retailers will remove salt from ground beef and other minced meat products.

"The outcome of these talks with retailers has been nothing short of game-changing. The initiative will remove all salt from ground beef and other minced meat products.

"This represents an important landmark moment that will improve the general health of the population,"​ said health minister Bent Høie, at a press conference in Oslo on 17 October.

The agreement forms part of a broader consumer-directed health programme run by the ministry to reduce Norwegians’ daily salt intake in a bid to address the rising problem of cardiovascular disease in the country. The ministry is striving to reduce the total daily salt consumption per citizen from 10g to 5g.

The salt elimination deal was reached with all of Norway’s major grocery chains, including NorgesGruppen, Coop Norge Handel, Kiwi Norge, Rema 1000, Meny, Spar, Nærbutikken, Ultra, and Joker. The ministry now plans to work with the retail industry and producers to draw up new guidelines to control salt content in consumer food products sold in Norway.

NorgesGruppen, the biggest of Norway’s food retailers and which holds a nearly 40% market share, estimated that it alone will remove around 90 tonnes (t) of salt from ground beef products on an annual basis.

"The potential to reduce salt in food products is enormous, and we expect the food industry in Norway as a whole, including producers and other food vendors, to follow our lead. As a retail grocery group, we calculate that our scope for reducing the salt content in the foods we sell could be as high as 270t annually,"​ NorgesGruppen’s CEO Tommy Korneliussen told GlobalMeatNews​.

Norwegians purchased 31,000t of ground beef, pork, lamb and veal in 2013, according to the ministry.

Meanwhile, the Coop grocery chain estimated it will remove up to 20t of salt from the ground beef and pork it sells on an annual basis. "We will start by cutting the salt content in not only ground beef, but all minced meats including private-label lamb, pork, veal and chicken, by 50%. This will happen within coming weeks,"​ said Coop spokesperson Kristin Paus.

According to NorgesGruppen and Coop, grocery retail groups will also start talking to food suppliers regarding reducing or eliminating the salt content in processed foods sold in their stores.

Related topics: Meat

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