By Kayleigh Pereira
Good news for those of us who like their gossip extra salty, but not our food!
A new legislation is forcing South African food manufacturing companies to put less salt in their products. Here’s the lowdown…
Why is salt such a super-villain in SA?
The World Health Organization’s recommended amount of maximum daily salt consumption is 5g –the equivalent of a teaspoonful – but South Africans generally consume double this amount. Don’t be too harsh on yourself just yet: most of the salt we consume is already in manufactured food products we buy, and not what we add ourselves.
We all know that too much salt leads to high blood pressure, which in turn contributes to heart disease, stoke and kidney disease. What we may not all know, though, is how many of our products sneakily up our sodium intake. And we’re not just talking obvious trolley additions, like biltong or chips. Even sweet cereals add to our daily salt consumption by another gram. Is nothing sacred?
Do you know how much salt you’re eating?
You might be surprised by the answer! If you want to work out how much salt you’re consuming, here’s an online salt calculator to help you out. Shocked yet?
What does the legislation mean for you?
Manufacturers of commonly purchased products like bread, margarines and butters, cereals, savoury snacks, soups, processed meats, stocks and instant noodles will be expected to adhere to revised maximum salt levels. These new targets will depend on their food category.
And we’ll be seeing even stricter regulations in 2019…
How will it help?
Researchers claim that this legislation will help every South African consume 0.85g less salt daily. This decrease means that there will be an estimated 7 400 fewer deaths as a result of heart disease and a decrease of 4 300 non-fatal strokes every year. No small feat…
But South Africans are still not entirely off the hook: we need to check our food labels. Even with the legislation’s new restrictions, many of the foods affected will still be very salty. Many aren’t included in the new legislation, such as salted peanut butter, which contains 800 times more salt than its unsalted cousin! Um… Say that again?
And what can we do?
Seriously chill with that salt shaker at dinner!
If you’re looking for extra help in making food choices that won’t mess up your sodium intake, look out for the Heart Mark logo. These foods have been sussed out by The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, who are committed to helping South Africans make more health-conscious decisions, and contain lower amounts of salt.
And drive right past the drive-through. But we knew that, right?