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Abstract

This study evaluates the sodium and calcium content of convenience cheese products available for use in school lunches and the classification of such products using traffic light approaches designed to guide food selection for healthy eating. Thirty-eight convenience cheese products from NSW supermarkets were studied. Nutrition information panels provided sodium content for all products and calcium content for 35 products. It was found that a 40g serve of convenience cheese products can contribute a substantial proportion of children’s calcium Estimated Average Requirements (EARs). However, the accompanying sodium levels create difficulty for keeping daily sodium intake within the Adequate Intake (AI) range for school children of all ages, particularly, younger children (4–8 year olds). Due to the sodium content, many of the cheese products, especially processed cheeses, need to be classified as ‘red’ foods—to be avoided or only eaten occasionally. The categorisation of the convenience cheese products as ‘green’, every day foods, to provide calcium conflicts with messages to choose foods low in sodium when promoting healthy eating.

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