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Take your meal – with a pinch of salt

Written by Samona Murugan and SAnews
South Africans can expect less salt in their food as part of government’s drive to encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles.

New regulations will mean that salt-loving South Africans will have to settle for less salt in some food products in the years to come.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily salt intake of 4 to 6g, which is about a teaspoon a day, but the average salt intake in the country is 8 to 10g.

Studies show that some South Africans are even consuming as much as 40g of salt a day.

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, who signed regulations to reduce the salt content in several food items recently, said South Africans’ love for salt increased their risk of hypertension.

Reducing salt would help curb hypertension, high blood pressure, heart attacks and other health problems experienced by the country’s population, the Minister stressed.

To limit the amount of salt in certain food, Minister Motsoaledi made amendments to the Foodstuffs, Cosmetic and Disinfectants Act of 1976.

The new regulations require food manufacturers to ensure that bread, butter, cereals, chips, stock cubes and processed meat contain less salt by 2019.

Currently, the number one food item consumed by South Africans is bread. Each loaf of bread contains 4.8 per cent of salt. The new restriction will ensure that a loaf of bread contains about 4 per cent salt by 2016 and almost 3.8 per cent by 2019.

The Department of Health, in partnership with the South African Heart and Stroke Foundation, will also embark on a campaign to educate the public on the new regulations and dangers of salt.

Recommended daily salt intake for children: 0 to 6 months – under 1g; 6 to 12 months – 1g; 1 to 3 years – 2g; 4 to 6 years – 3g; 7 to 10 years – 5g; 11 or more – 6g.
For more information contact the Department of Health on 012 395 8000.