Salt regulations

SA’s new salt regulations signed into law

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Monday [March 18] that he would be signing regulations to reduce the salt content in several foodstuffs. The draft regulations were published for comment in July 2012.

“I’m happy to announce that today I’m going to be signing these new regulations and this week, the new regulations to reduce the amount of salt permitted in a number of foodstuffs will be published in our Government Gazette,” said Motsoaledi on Monday.

Speaking on day one of the three-day multi-stakeholder dialogue on addressing the risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the African region of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Motsoaledi said South Africa gazetted draft regulations in July 2012 for the compulsory regulation of salt in foodstuffs.

The World Health Organisation recommends a daily intake of salt of not more than 5g (about a teaspoon), but studies show that some South Africans were taking as much as 40g of salt a day, increasing the risk of hypertension, Motsoaledi said.

“We are determined to reach this goal,” said the minister, adding that some of the targeted foods include bread, brine, soups and snacks.

Motsoaledi said the reduction of salt content in food would be a gradual process. This would be done alongside a campaign to educate the public on the matter, in partnership with the South African Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Salt reduction is critical in the fight against hypertension and other NCDs.

According to draft regulations to the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, food manufacturers have until June 2016 to comply with the first set of sodium (table salt) targets.

The Consumer Goods Council of SA (CGCSA) has expressed disappointment at the publication of regulations to reduce salt content in foodstuffs.

It had written to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi about alternative approaches to ensure the introduction of a reduction in salt content, it said in a statement.

The CGCSA said it supported the reduction, but that the impact of the regulations would not be effective because of unrealistic timelines, a lack of consumer education and cost implications.

“The industry still hopes that the ministry will consider these concerns and grant us the opportunity to work together to the ultimate benefit of the consumer,” said CGCSA food safety initiative head, Ronel Burger.

Additional reading:

Salt reduction: government publishes draft regulations

Download the regulations

Unilever: consumers don’t easily accept less salt

‘Get healthy – or else’, says health minister