About 34% of processed foods contain double the recommended amount
News Desk : dhakamirror.com
About 61% of processed and packaged foods found in Bangladesh contain more salt than is considered safe, posing a higher health risk to consumers. A guideline is needed to set a maximum salt content for processed foods, health experts say.
Popular packet foods, such as biscuits, chips, chanachur, noodles, instant soup, jhalmuri, pickles, and chutney, have more salt than is safe, assuming up to 750 mg of salt per 100 grams of food to be safe, according to the study, “Assessment of Salt Content and Label Compliance of Commonly Consumed Processed Packaged Foods of Bangladesh”.
Around 34% of processed foods contain twice the safe level. That is, they have 1.5 grams of salt per 100 grams.
The research conducted by the National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh, with support from Resolve to Save Lives, USA, was released at a Cirdap Auditorium seminar in the capital on Wednesday.
The researchers examined samples of 105 popular brands of chanachur, noodles, instant soup, jhalmuri, lozenges, pickles, chutneys, chips, fried peas, sauces, biscuits,
bread, cakes, soft drinks and fruit drinks. However, the study report did not mention the names of the companies whose products were found to contain such excess salt.
According to the research, none of the commonly consumed chanachur, noodles, instant soup, and jhalmuri have a safe level of salt, while many of them contain twice the safe level.
Around 83% of pickles and chutneys, 63% of chips, and 60% of fried peas have more than 1.5 grams of salt per 100 grams. None of the chips and fried peas have a safe level of salt, the study revealed.
Dr Ahmad Khairul Abrar who presented the key findings of the research, said, “Bangladesh has no official maximum limit for salt in processed foods. As a result, companies add as much salt as they want to their products.”
“As per the Packaged Food Labeling Regulations 2017, it is mandatory to indicate on the package label the amount of salt present in processed foods. However, nearly half (44%) of the foods examined for the study contained more salt than the amount stated on the package,” said Dr Ahmad Khairul Abrar, National Heart Foundation’s Hypertension Control Research Coordinator.
Research has shown 97% of people in the country consume this type of food. An average person consumes these foods 15 times a week, or more than twice a day on an average.
Excessive salt intake increases the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
In order to prevent these diseases, the government should take the initiative to set a maximum limit of salt in processed foods, in accordance with guidelines of the World Health Organisation.
It should also ensure that nutritional information is properly mentioned on the packaging of food products so that a consumer can easily understand whether the food is healthy or unhealthy, the study recommends.