Government reassures enterprises about regulations on use of iodised salt

Tuesday, 2017-03-14 14:26:05
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Deputy PM Vu Duc Dam speaks at the dialogue (photo: VGP)
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NDO—Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam reassured enterprises when he addressed their concerns about the Government’s decree on using iodised salt in food processing at a dialogue held between milk production firms and the Health Ministry in Hanoi on March 13.

The dialogue was held at the Government Office after the Vietnam Dairy Association reflected concerns related to the regulations on the adding of iodine to salt in food processing as Government Decree No. 09 on the micronutrient enhancement in food to be effective on March 15, 2017.

Chairman of the Vietnam Dairy Association Tran Quang Trung expressed his anxiety over the application of the regulations on the use of iodised salt in food processing because it would cause difficulties for dairy enterprises and increase production costs.

The reason is that iodine is susceptible to oxidation and metamorphism during processing, affecting the colour, taste, and sensation of products, adversely affecting the production and business operations of enterprises.

Therefore, the Vietnam Dairy Association recommended limiting the use of iodised salt only to specific types of food instead of the whole processing industry.

Chairwoman of the Vietnam Food Safety Association Phan Thi Kim said it is necessary to specify the type of food that must be supplemented with iodine to avoid difficulties for enterprises.

Salt for direct use must have iodine but salts used for food processing will need detailed guidance from the Ministry of Health as each type of food has different iodine content and each individual has different iodine demands.

Many businesses have worried that their products without iodine would be inspected and fined or food imported from countries not requiring the use of iodised salt will be charged.

Meanwhile, Director of the Legal Department under the Health Ministry Nguyen Huy Quang said that the exposure of Vietnamese people to iodised salt has decreased considerably in the past ten years, requiring a policy intervention as recommended by UNICEF, and that is Decree No. 09 was issued.

Sharing the same opinions with Quang, representatives from the Health Ministry, WHO and UNICEF all emphasised the necessity and importance of using iodised salt in food to protect the people's health.

The dialogue came to a standstill as enterprises wanted authorised agencies to clarify the regulation and limit the use of iodised salt to specific groups of products, but authorised agencies only focused on the necessity of putting iodised salt on food products for national health purposes.

Nearly two hours after the debate, Deputy PM Vu Duc Dam appeared and affirmed that the supplementation of micronutrients is very important for Vietnamese children, so the implementation of the Decree No. 09 is necessary.

He reassured enterprises by clarifying many issues, saying that Decree 09 only regulates the use of iodised salt for direct use and for food processing but not requiring processed food to have iodine. Thus, the subject of the decree is salt-processing enterprises and iodine inspection will be applied to salt products but not to finished products.

He noted that after Decree No. 09 came into force, the Ministry of Health would have no plan to inspect the dairy enterprises or dairy products for iodine content.

He also asked the Health Ministry to put forth specific instructions on food without iodine and imported food without iodine to secure enterprises.