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Regulating salt in processed foods

Dec 6th 2012, 07:49

Regulating salt in processed foods

Reducing salt content in processed foods has been an issue of much debate between food manufacturers and government this year. The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa provides some background on the matter and suggests how stakeholders can work towards an implementation plan.

Some background
Salt (sodium chloride) is commonly found in various processed foods. It has been used for centuries to improve the taste of food and for food preservation.

International health organisations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) along with many governments around the world, have called for reduction in the consumption of dietary salt. It is well-documented that cardiovascular or heart diseases are one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Elevated blood pressure levels increase the risk of heart disease, and although high blood pressure can be attributed to many factors, one of the leading contributors is excess intake of dietary salt.

In his objective towards “A long and healthy life for South Africans”, the South African Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi has identified high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases as one of the four major pandemics affecting the South African population.

Hence, for all the right reasons, Dr Motsoaledi wants to regulate salt levels in certain processed foods, over a six-year period. He has called for regulations to limit salt in bread, breakfast cereals, processed meats, butter, salty snacks, soups and stocks, to name a few. This resulted in the publication of draft regulations, which specify the maximum levels of salt allowed in specific food categories.

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