The Mercury

Oodles of in instant noodles

- Vuyo Mkize

THEY may be enjoyed as a quick-fix meal, but South African instant noodle packs are the eighth-highest in sodium content in the world, making them one of the Health Ministry’s targets to lower salt in processed foods.

The George Institute for Global Health revealed in a recent study, after testing 765 noodle products collected from 10 countries between 2012 and 2016, that the average noodle packet (noodles and the flavouring sachet)in SA (72g) contained 45%of the daily recommende­d maximum intake.

The World Health Organisati­on recommends that adults eat less than 5g of salt a day.

However, according to Discovery Vitality, the average salt intake of SA adults is estimated to be 8.1g a day, with bread the highest contributo­r to total salt intake.

Clare Farrand, a public health nutritioni­st at the George institute, said the findings were “disturbing” given that 270 million servings of noodles were consumed worldwide every day. The results from this study highlighte­d “the unnecessar­ily high” amount of sodium in instant noodle packs.

Those with the highest sodium content per 100g “as sold” were found in Indonesia and contained 7 584mg/100g. China had the highest mean sodium content (1 944mg/100g) as sold, compared to the lowest mean sodium content in New Zealand (798mg/100g).

People from SA and the UK would consume about half their daily allowance of sodium from a packet of noodles, and in India and New Zealand almost a third.

Candice Smith, the head of Vitality’s nutrition strategy, said: “Reducing salt intake by 2g a day could reduce cardiovasc­ular events by 20%. Reducing salt intake at a population level to the recommende­d 5g (one teaspoon) a day could help reduce the pressure on the health system.”

The quest to reduce salt content in processed foods has since 2013 been at the top of Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s agenda.

The foods affected included bread, breakfast cereals, margarines and butter, savoury snacks, potato chips and instant noodles.

A three-year implementa­tion period has been granted.

The maximum total of sodium per 100g for instant noodles as of June is 1 500mg, and by June 2019, it will be 800mg as per the regulation­s.

Laila Naidoo, the business executive manager for food at Nestle, said yesterday: “By the end of 2014, Nestle South Africa had already reduced the sodium content of its Maggi 2 Minute Noodles… Since 2009, we have reduced the sodium… at an average of 22%.” Nestle had plans to reduce sodium by a further 30%.

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