They are loved and enjoyed as a snack or a quick meal, but South African instant noodles are the eight highest in sodium content.
The George Institute for Global Health revealed in a recent study, in which researchers tested 765 noodle products from 10 countries between 2012 and this year, that the average noodle packet in South Africa (72 grams) contained 45 percent of the daily recommended maximum intake.
The World Health Organisation recommends that adults eat less than 5g of salt a day.
Discovery Vitality said the average salt intake of South African adults is about 8g a day. Bread is the highest contributor to the total intake.
The George Institute public health nutritionist Clare Farrand described the findings as disturbing, given that 270 million servings of noodles were consumed worldwide every day.
We know that instant noodles contain salt. However, it’s shocking to see just how much salt is in a single packet. What is more worrying is that in reality people tend to eat the entire packet of noodles, rather than just the recommended serving size, eating even more salt than what is advertised.
The results from this study highlighted the unnecessarily high amount of sodium in instant noodles.
The highest sodium content per 100g in the product was found in Indonesia and contained 7 584mg/100g.
China had the highest mean sodium content (1 944mg/100g) compared to the lowest mean sodium content in New Zealand (798mg/100g).
People from South Africa and the UK would consume about half their daily allowance of sodium from a single packet of noodles, and people in India and New Zealand would eat almost a third of their daily sodium intake from a packet of noodles, the paper showed.
Vitality’s nutrition strategy head, Candice Smith, said yesterday that consuming a lot of salt increased blood pressure, and was linked to cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Reducing salt intake by 2g a day could reduce cardiovascular events by 20 percent. Reducing salt intake at a population level to the recommended 5g (one teaspoon) a day could help reduce the pressure on the health system and have a large, positive public-health effect, said Smith.
The quest to reduce salt content in processed foods has been a priority on Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi’s agen-da since March 2013, when he published the amendment to the foodstuff re-gulations in the Government Gazette.
The foods affected included bread, breakfast cereals, margarine and butter, savoury snacks, potato chips and instant noodles. A three-year implementation period was granted to allow manufacturers time to experiment with reformulations.
The maximum total of sodium per 100g for instant noodles as of June is 1 500mg, and by June 2019 it will be 800mg as per the regulations.
Laila Naidoo, the food business executive manager at Nestle, which manufacturers one of the country’s favoured noodles brands, Maggi 2 Minute Noodles – said yesterday: By the end of 2014, Nestle South Africa had reduced the sodium content of its Maggi 2 Minute Noodles to meet the June 2016 legislation – therefore exceeding the stipulated target by the Department of Health.
Since 2009 we have reduced the sodium content in our noodles at an average of 22 percent. We have plans in place to reduce the sodium content of our noodles by a further 30 percent in the next three years.