Tighter regulations for salt, tobacco use

Monday, March 18, 2013

Boksburg - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi will today sign regulations to reduce the salt content in several foodstuffs, while he will also issue regulations to tighten tobacco use.

“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.

On the issue of tobacco use, the Health Department will this week issue regulations to tighten the use of tobacco.

“This week, we will also be issuing regulations to further tighten tobacco use in this country. These new regulations will inter alia restrict the smoking of tobacco outside buildings.

“We’ve become familiar with the sight of people congregating outside buildings in the use of tobacco,” Motsoaledi told delegates at the conference.

The minister’s predecessor Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had previously passed the first laws restricting smoking inside public places.

Smoking outside buildings had a negative effect on people entering and exiting buildings, he said.

Motsoaledi said smoking caused “death and mayhem”.

South Africa is also taking the use of alcohol seriously. An inter-ministerial committee, said Motsoaledi, is set to meet this week to discuss the draft on several steps to adjust the legal drinking age from 18 years to 21.

The dialogue concludes on Wednesday. - SAnews.gov.za