Mandatory Measures to Help Control NCDs

Mandatory Measures to Help Control NCDsMandatory Measures to Help Control NCDs

Measures have been taken to implement the National Document for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) that was introduced in October 2015, said Rasoul Dinarvand, head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The 'traffic light' tags--with information indicating how much fat, salt, sugar and trans-fatty acids (TFAs) a food product contains--have been placed so far on 60% of the food products," he said, IRNA reported.

"By the end of August it will become mandatory for all local food manufacturers to use food labels with nutritional facts. Also, measures to raise awareness about the importance of paying attention to the food labels will start from June through publicity campaigns," he said, on the sidelines of the recent national meeting of health deputies of medical sciences universities. Stating that the worst dietary habit of Iranians is consuming excess salt, sugar and oil, he said, import of trans-fatty acids into the country have been banned by the FDA.

  Fighting TFAs

In order to achieve the document's goals by the end of 2025, TFAs should be completely eliminated from the domestic food supply chain, he said.

According to the FDA, in 2005 the average amount of TFAs in edible liquid oils was 25%. It was brought down to 5% in 2014 and will further decrease to 2% by the end of the current fiscal year in March 2017.

On an average each Iranian consumes more than 19 kg of oil each year and improving edible oil standards can help improve people's health.

There are two kinds of fats in food products including TFAs acids and saturated oils. Although there are some disagreements among health experts about the effects of saturated oils on health, as some believe animal fat in butter and milk are beneficial to health, all experts agree that TFAs are definitely bad for people's health.

Pointing to the negative effects of palm oil on people's health, Dinarvand said this year, tax on palm oil imports was increased by 16%. Use of palm oil in dairy products was banned in 2014.

  War on Salt

High salt intake in the country poses serious risk to people's health. Many countries are taking measures to reduce the intake of dietary salt to 5 grams per day, and some others to 3 grams per day. Per capita salt consumption is 12 grams in Iran, he rued.

Traditional breads also contain high amount of salt. "Recently an ultimatum was issued to all bakeries to reduce the amount of salt in all types of bread or 'nan'. After the measure the salt amount in breads has been reduced from the previous 2.3% to 1%."

However, 60% of the problem is related to excessive salt added to home-cooked foods; therefore people’s cooperation is essential to address the problem. Stating that "we now have plans to reduce salt intake by 30% over a five-year period," he said the scheme should be implemented gradually as it takes time to change people's sense of taste; otherwise they may oppose it.