Sat, Jul 25, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Foundation warns over hidden salt

UNSAVORY BUSINESS Manufacturers are not doing enough to make consumers aware of the high levels of salt their products contain, the watchdog group said

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

A woman eats instant noodles at a Consumers’ Foundation press conference yesterday. The foundation warned about the health risks of excessive amounts of salt in instant noodles and other forms of processed food.

PHOTO: LIAO CHEN-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES

The Consumers’ Foundation yesterday warned the public that it found excessive amounts of salt in many types of processed food on sale in shops and supermarkets, and accused manufacturers of lacking a conscience for using such a “harmful substance.”

Foundation secretary-general Wu Chia-cheng (吳家誠) told a press conference that five of 30 processed food items the foundation examined in a random inspection were found to contain astoundingly high levels of sodium chloride. The study included cookies, instant noodles and snacks.

Hypertension, which the foundation said was linked to a high salt intake, has long been one of the major causes of death among Taiwanese, claiming the lives of 3,507 Taiwanese last year.

The five items the foundation said contained unhealthy levels of salt included dried plums and instant noodles produced by Uni-President Enterprise Corp and one type of instant noodle made by Weilih Food.

The Department of Health (DOH) recommends a daily salt intake of no more than 2.4g.

Wu said the “7-Eleven dry Shao­shing plums” produced by Uni-­President contained 4.892g of salt, more than twice the ­recommended daily maximum, while its compressed dry papayas contained 4.473g of salt.

The test found one bowl of the Weilih instant stewed beef soup noodles contained 2.78g of salt, he added.

Foundation chairman Hsieh Tien-jen (謝天仁) said the food producers lacked a sense of morality and ethics to produce such “substandard” products.

“Such food items seriously harm the public’s health,” he said.

Another 20 items contained more than 800mg of salt, which exceeds the suggested intake for a single meal, Wu said.

In view of the high salt content of many foods, Wu asked the department to mandate that food processing companies list the DOH’s recommended daily nutrient allowance levels on product labels.

“As many as 96 percent of processed food items have failed to come up with adequate labeling,” he said.

Uni-President and Weilih said last night that their products carry labels advising consumers to add flavoring sensibly.

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