The SA Department of Health - worth its salt

The Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, has recently signed into law the Regulations Relating to the Reduction of Sodium in Certain Foodstuffs and Related Matters made under the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act 54 of 1972.

The regulations can be seen as part of a concerted effort by the Department of Health (DoH) to address the ever increasing problem of diseases of lifestyle, or non-communicable diseases (NCDs), in South Africa. NCDs are seen by the DoH as a major impediment to national development, and according to recent World Health Organisation statistics, NCDs are accountable for 29% of all deaths in South Africa.

The regulations set out to limit the level of Sodium intake by South African consumers by regulating the total allowable Sodium levels in various categories of food products including: bread, breakfast cereals and porridges, fat spreads and butter spreads, read-to-eat savoury snacks, potato crisps, processed meat, raw-processed meat sausages, soup and gravy powders, and various forms of stock products.

A two-stage reduction in total Sodium levels is provided for in the regulations, the important dates for industry being 30 June 2016 and 30 June 2019.

In addition, in a press release coinciding with World Health Day the DoH stated that a “Non-communicable Diseases Strategy” has been developed and will be launched shortly, with the plan set to contain “what we intend to do in order to reach targets”.

With the four main risk factors for NCDs said to be tobacco use, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, and harmful alcohol use, it will be insightful to note the contents of the DoH’s strategic plan in terms of possible future regulation.

Date published: 2013/04/15
Author: Dirk Hanekom

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