Regulations relating to the reduction of sodium in certain foodstuffs came into effect on 30 June 2016.  Further reductions in the sodium content of these same foodstuffs will come into effect on 30 June 2019.  (The Department of Health published these regulations in the Government Gazette of 20 March 2013.)

The following foodstuffs are affected, with the maximum total sodium (salt) per 100g indicated:

  • Bread 400 mg.
  • All breakfast cereals and porridges 500 mg.
  • All fat spreads and butter spreads 550 mg.
  • Ready to eat savoury snacks 800 mg.
  • Flavoured potato crisps 650 mg.
  • Flavoured ready to eat savoury snacks and potoato crisps – salt and vinegar flavor 1000 mg.
  • Processed meat – uncured 850 mg.
  • Processed meat – cured 950 mg.
  • Raw-processed meat sausages and similar products 800 mg.
  • Dry soup powder 5500 mg
  • Dry gravy powders and dry instant savoury sauces 3500 mg.
  • Dry savoury powders with dry instant noodles 1500 mg.
  • Stock cubes, stock powders, stock granules, stock emulsions, stock pastes or stock jellies 18000 mg.

 What is salt?

  • Table salt (sodium chloride) consists of the minerals sodium (Na) and chloride Cl), in the ratio sodium 40% and chloride 60%.
  • The World Health Organisation recommends we eat not more than 5g, about a teaspoon, of salt from all sources per day.

 Why is too much salt bad for you?

  • The amount of salt in one’s diet is known to directly affect blood pressure in a linear fashion, indicating a link between high salt intake and high blood pressure.
  • It is normal for blood pressure to fluctuate and be higher at times. When your blood pressure stays elevated for a long time, you have hypertension.
  • Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
  • South Africa has one of the highest rates of hypertension worldwide, making people more susceptible to strokes and heart disease.
  • The higher blood pressure caused by a high salt intake puts extra strain on the insides of arteries, resulting in the tiny muscles in the artery walls becoming stronger and thicker, which in turn restricts the flow of blood in the arteries.
  • High blood pressure may also damage the arteries leading to the heart and restrict the flow of blood, resulting in less oxygen and nutrients reaching the cells in the heart, which may then not work as well as they should.
  • Damage caused by high blood pressure over time may become so severe that arteries become clogged or even burst.  The resulting interruption in the flow of blood to vital organs can lead to a heart attack in the case of the heart, or a stroke in the case of the brain.
  • New research has indicated that a diet high in salt may have a negative effect on the levels of vitamin D in the body.
  • A high level of sodium in the bloodstream reduces the ability of the kidneys to remove extra water from the blood. This results in higher blood pressure due to the extra fluid and put additional strain on the blood vessels leading to the kidneys.


Why do we need salt?

Salt plays important and essential roles in the functioning of our bodies.

  • Salt is the most common source of sodium and chloride ions from our diet, as the body is unable to make these ions.
  • Sodium regulates the volumes of fluids in the body.
  • Sodium aids the uptake of various other nutrients into cells.
  • Sodium levels influence the normal pH of the blood.
  • Sodium play a role at cellular level in transmitting nerve signals in the body and aiding muscle contraction.
  • Chloride ions levels also influence fluid movement and pH levels in the body.
  • Chloride ions are important in the digestion of food, as they contribute to the production of acidic fluid in the stomach, which is partly made of hydrochloric acid.
  • Sodium is necessary to prevent dehydration.

MARCH 2017

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