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Salt regulations

D-Day for South Africa’s salt regulations

There’ll be less salt, officially, in the processed foods South Africans eat from today as the government’s salt regulations come into force.

But‚ says the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA said‚ South African’s eating habits still have to change.

“New legislation to reduce salt in processed foods comes into effect on 30 June 2016‚” the Foundation notes of the regulations that require the salt content per two slices of bread reduced from 650mg to 400mg‚ while breakfast cereals have to contain less than 500mg per 100g serving.

Other foods “affected include bread‚ breakfast cereal‚ margarines and butter‚ savoury snacks‚ potato crisps‚ processed meats‚ sausages‚ soup and gravy powders‚ instant noodles and stocks”.

The amendment to the foodstuff regulations was published in the Government Gazette in March 2013. A three-year implementation period was granted to allow time for manufacturers to experiment with reformulation and produce lower salt products that are still acceptable to consumers.”

A second set of lower level comes into effect in 2019.

The Foundation says that while Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi’s “ground-breaking bill…is an important step‚ it will not completely resolve our excess salt intake.

“South African consumers add on average four grams of salt to food at home.

“This alone nearly meets the WHO’s maximum limit of five grams or one teaspoon per day. There are also many foods that are not included in the legislation either. Salted peanut butter contains 800 times more salt than the unsalted variety.

“Excess salt intake can raise blood pressure‚ thereby contributing to heart disease‚ strokes and kidney disease.”

Will brands be ready?

The big question is whether companies are on target to meet the deadline and if the foods on our shelves are actually lower in salt. Sibonile Dube, corporate affairs director for Unilever SA says, “All our products being manufactured, post June 2016, will be 100% compliant to the salt regulations. There will still be some older stock in circulation, but we can assure consumers that we have met these targets.”

Le-Anne Engelbrecht, brand manager at SASKO breads, echoes this response: “SASKO has been hard at work to align with the required salt regulations and is well on track to meet the sodium targets within the specified deadline.”

Source: Health24

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