Salt reduction strategy 2021-2025 to focus on product reformulation

Photo used for illustration purposes only

PUTRAJAYA – The Salt Reduction Strategy 2021-2025 was launched today by focusing on the involvement of the food and beverage industry to reformulate products with less and healthier salt content, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali.

To implement this change in lifestyle and eating habits, the Ministry of Health (MOH) in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) and universities are conducting a study known as the ‘Resolve Project’ to reduce salt content in soy sauce products.

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“Several soy sauce companies have given their commitment to participate in this study and it is hoped that more companies will also act proactively by reformulating other products that are also high in salt content,” he said when launching the strategy here today.

Apart from the voluntary action of the industry to implement product reformulation, MOH also needs to take drastic measures in controlling salt content by introducing a mandatory maximum limit of salt content for certain food products through an amendment to the Food Act 1983 which is expected to be completed before 2025, he said.

A study of salt intake among Malaysians in 2019 found that the average salt intake was 7.9 grammes per day or 1.6 teaspoons, exceeding the recommendation of less than 5.0 gm per day.

Among the types of food most often consumed and which contribute to high salt intake are fried vegetables, omelette, fried noodles and roti canai, he noted.

Dr Noor Azmi said the strategy was also aimed at raising awareness on salt intake and prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

“Reduction of salt intake is one of the major cost-effective early interventions in the prevention and control of NCDs, especially hypertension.

“The 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey shows that three out of 10 or 6.4 million Malaysian adults have hypertension,” he said.

The Salt Reduction Strategy 2021-2025 will be implemented through Monitoring, Awareness and Product (MAP) which involves cross-agency cooperation and stakeholders including product manufacturers.