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INGREDIENTS AND FLAVOURS

FSSAI issues draft notification related to standards for low-sodium foods
Tuesday, 09 May, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Shraddha Joshi, Mumbai
In a bid to help consumers make informed choices about salt products,  the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a draft notification related to standards for special dietary food with low sodium content (including salt substitutes).
 
As per the draft, special dietary foods with low salt content are foods whose special dietary value results from the reduction, restriction or removal of sodium and shall conform to the essential compositions and standards.
 
The country’s apex food regulator has asked the stakeholders to give their suggestions on the subject within a month from the date of the notification.
 
The draft stated, “A special dietary food with low sodium content is a food which has been processed without the addition of sodium salts, and the sodium content of which is not more than one half of that of the comparable normal product as consumed, and the sodium content of which is not more than 120mg/100g of the final product as normally consumed.”
 
“Whereas a special dietary food with very low sodium content is a food which has been processed without the addition of sodium salts, and the sodium content of which is not more than one half of that of the comparable normal product as consumed, and the sodium content of which is not more than 40mg/100g of the final product as normally consumed,” it added.
 
Vaibhav Kulkarni, regulatory committee chairman, Health Foods and Dietary Supplements Association (HADSA) said, “The notice issued by the FSSAI giving information on the special dietary food is a good initiative.”

“They have realised the importance and issued the draft. Consumers should be aware on the amount of sodium content in the food they consume. It is very important part as risk assessment. Sodium is not so harmful, but the consumption of high-sodium food can directly affect and increase high blood pressure, which can lead to cardiac and heart diseases,” he added.
 
Kulkarni stated, “According to the National Heart and Lungs Institute, London, a person should not consume more than 2,400mg of salt daily, which is 6g a day. However, the salt intake of a person suffering from blood pressure should not have more than 1,500mg.”
 
“Consumers, on their part, should check the label of the product and should be fully aware regarding the amount of sodium used in the product. It should always be below the prescribed quantity, as one should have it in the proper proportion. People need to regularise their intake of salt,” he added.
 
Ashwin Bhadri, chief executive officer, Equinox Labs, said, “Sodium is an important aspect of one’s diet. It helps in nerve conduction and helps in maintaining the hormone balance in the body. However, the lack of sodium can cause hypothyroidism, and more sodium in the body can lead to hyperthyroidism and high blood pressure.”
 
“It is, therefore, important for people with hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure and some with diabetes, to avoid foods with a high sodium content. The regulation issued by FSSAI, titled as Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Amendment Regulations, 2017, is an initiative to bring forth the concept of using less sodium and substituting them with other edible salts,” he said.
 
He added,  “To begin with, low sodium foods and very low sodium foods are products wherein no extra salt is added during its processing. That is a vital step, since the addition of salt during processing and other steps is a common practice with respect to products of a similar nature.”

“Talking of a similar nature, another major similarity in the two types is that the sodium content in these products should not exceed half the value of sodium content in products of a similar nature,” Bhadri said.

“The only major difference is the maximum limits stated for both the categories - while in low sodium food products, the sodium content should not exceed 120mg/100g of the final product as normally consumed, the number changes to 40mg/100g in very low sodium food products,” he added.

“FSSAI has also mentioned some substitutes like salts of potassium, magnesium, choline and acidic ones. These come with certain limitations of their own, which have to be carefully followed. This categorisation will enable people to consume food products with salt content as per their preference of type and quantity,” Bhadri said.
 
The regulator has also prescribed the labelling norms for such products. The draft stated that the product should clearly display the terms low sodium or very low sodium on the label of the product.  The sodium content to the nearest multiple of 5mg per 100g, as well as the amount of sodium normally consumed per serving, amongst others.
 
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