Govt to regulate salt, glucose and fat
Paper Edition | Page: 4
Citing health concerns, the government expects to issue a new regulation putting a cap on the amount of salt, glucose and fat on ready-to-serve food marketed in the country.
The Health Ministry said that a ministerial regulation on limits of salt, glucose and fat would help the public deal with the problems of unhealthy diet. Along with a lack of exercise, cigarettes and alcohol, bad diet has been blamed for obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol problems, considered major risk factors for non-infectious diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and chronic lung diseases.
The new regulation is expected to come into effect later this year.
The Health Ministry’s director for non-communicable disease control, Ekowati Rahajeng, said on Thursday that reducing salt, glucose and fat to levels recommended in the new regulation was one of measures to improve dietary patterns of the Indonesian people.
“In the regulation, we will set a limit on salt, glucose and fat in foods. Once it takes effect, both processed-food manufacturers and fast food restaurants must label products with the amount of salt, sugar and fat in their products,” she said.
No regulation limits the amount of the three substances and the only current rule is the National Drug and Food Monitoring Agency (BPOM) circular requiring food manufacturers to print ingredients and nutritional facts on labels.
“Now, we want all food manufacturers to also explicitly disclose the amount of salt, sugar and fat in their products,” she said.
Separately, head of the ministry’s cardiovascular disease control Lily Banonah Rivai, said that with the planned regulations, the government would only be able to cap sugar and salt levels.
“We will apply the cap on salt for both food and beverages. But for sugar, we can only do that for beverages. It’s quite difficult to determine the amount of sugar allowed in food manufacturing process as each type of food product needs different levels of sugar,” she said.
As for the standard on fat, the government would only give a guidance on the healthy use of fat.
“The amount of calories from fat we consume should not exceed 25 percent of total calories we need every day,” said Lily.
With more Indonesians now living in urban areas, more are expected to suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and other lifestyle-related diseases.
The World Health Organization considers non-communicable diseases the leading cause of death worldwide.
It records that 36 million, or almost two-thirds of total 57 million deaths in 2008 were attributed to non-communicable diseases, mainly of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and lung diseases.
Indonesia has about 7 million people with diabetes, making it one of countries with highest prevalence of diabetes in the world after China, India and the United States.
The 2007 Basic Health Research shows that 59.5 percent deaths in Indonesia are attributed to non-communicable diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.
Hasbullah Thabrany, a public health specialist from the University of Indonesia’s School of Public Health, said patients with late diagnosis could suffer from serious complications of diabetes as well as heavy financial burdens.
Selected comments will be published in the Readers’ Forum page of our print newspaper.