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Iodized salt, iron added also - compulsory for India

nabadip - Thu, 16 Jun 2005 20:46:00 +0530
Your salt now packed with iodine

Pioneer News Service/ New Delhi

The humble cooking salt will now be fortified with not just iodine, but also iron to nourish a nation of anemic women and children. Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition will soon commercialise double-fortified salt, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said.

Fortifying salt is the health minister's way of ensuring 'nutrition' equity for the masses. The minister is probably grappling with the irony that in cities, even fruit juices come fortified with vitamins. While in rural hinterlands, children have diminished intellectual capacity for want of a pinch of iodine. The government also reinstated the ban on sale of non-iodised salt that was lifted in 2000.

In their whole lifetime, a person may require only a teaspoon of iodine. But its deficiency can cause serious damage to the brain of foetus and growing children, like goitre, thyroid deficiency, retarded physical development and impaired mental function. Iodine deficiency is the single most common cause of mental handicap and is totally preventable. Other studies have shown that school children living in iodine deficient environment have 13 IQ points less than those living in iodine sufficient environment.

Mr Ramadoss acknowledged that lifting the ban was a mistake. "Lifting the ban (on sale of non-iodised salt) has had a serious health effect. Of the 360 districts surveyed, 254 reported iodine deficiency in children," he said. The Government has set a target of reducing iodine deficiency disorder to less than 10 per cent by 2010," he said.

Former Health Minister CP Thakur had lifted the ban in September 2000 citing that "matters of public health should be left to the informed choice, and not enforced through compulsion."

Other factors that weighed the argument in favour of lifting the ban was that it increased the price of salt and was seen to be helping sales of a few private players. But the perception is misleading; one, it costs a mere 10 paise per person per year to iodise salt. Two, the domestic consumption of salt has risen from three lakh tonne in 1984 to 45 lakh tonne in 2004.

After the ban was lifted, all states saw a drop in consumption of non-iodised salt. Although most of the States had retained the ban after Centre's withdrawal, the sale of non-iodised salt increased in states like Gujarat, which produces the bulk of salt, Arunachal and Kerala.

nabadip - Thu, 16 Jun 2005 21:04:51 +0530
Compulsory intake of iodized salt is a controversial topic , as most of you are probably aware of. The addition of iron is cause for more doubts. Another thing to consider when visiting India for longer stays... Bring your own salt, or buy Saindava salt (that reddish rock-salt coming in stone-pieces to grind for yourself) coming from Pakistan.

here is an Indian voice in the iodization-controversy:

Regular use of iodized salt is not suitable for most of the people living in countries or regions with a hot tropical climate as is the case in most parts of India. Excessive consumption of iodine can cause or aggravate hyperthyroidism, diarrheal diseases, excessive sweating, dehydration, rapid loss in weight, respiratory distress like asthma, gout, diabetes, kidney stones, skin cancer, severe pain in various parts of the body and increased susceptibility to AIDS.

nabadip - Thu, 16 Jun 2005 23:24:05 +0530
Googling for "forced iodization" does not produce hardly any results in English. There does not seem to be much controversy over iodine in salt in Anglosaxon countries. In Germany, where iodization is enforced totally, 10 % of the population suffers greatly from iodine-allergy. The term Zwangsiodisierung (forced iodization) results in pages upon pages of sites discussing it. Over-exposure to iodine can be a dangerous hazard for some people, even leading to death...
braja - Fri, 17 Jun 2005 19:11:45 +0530
I recall hearing that over 50% of the food on supermarket shelves in the US contains genetically modified foods, yet there is very little controversy here over this so something like iodized salt is even less likely to cause a stir.