Malaysia’s Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that iodine must be added to fine salt or salt weighs 20kg or less, starting from 30 September 2020. The Malaysia Health Director – general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the purpose of this regulation is to reduce iodine deficiency among Malaysia citizens.
The Ministry decided to amend Regulation 285 (iodized salt) in Food Regulations 1985, and to enforced from 30 September. The Food Safety and Quality division in the Ministry of Health will monitor and ensure this regulation is fully complied by related parties.
Moreover, Dr Noor Hisham emphasized that it will be an offence if related parties fail to comply to amendment in Regulation 285. If convicted, traders or manufacturers will be fined up to RM10, 000 or jailed for not more than 2 years.
Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD)
According to a nationwide study on iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), 48.2% of children who aged from 8 to 10 faced the problem of iodine deficiency. Besides, 2.1% of children suffered from goitre, which is a condition of the enlarged thyroid gland caused by insufficient iodine intake in the diet. Besides, the iodine intake of pregnant women and school students have not reached the optimum level, said Dr Noor Hisham.
The implementation of Universal Salt Iodisation (USI) will aid in improving iodine intake in the society, said Dr Noor Hisham. This is because salt is a basic ingredient that consumed by everyone, regardless of their income. However, Dr Noor Hisham stressed that it is not necessary to increase salt intake as it could lead to hypertension or other non-communicable diseases.
Why is iodine important for health?
Iodine is a trace element found in some food. It is important for the body to produce thyroid hormone which controls human metabolism and other important functions. Besides, thyroid hormone especially vital for pregnant women and infants as it contributes to proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy.
Insufficient iodine intake disturbs the production of thyroid hormone in a human’s body. This will lead to goitre disease, hypothyroidism and intellectual disabilities in infants and children.
Sources of Iodine
Iodine is naturally present in some food and is also commonly added into salt as iodized salt. Sufficient amount of iodine can be obtained through consumption of varieties of food, including:
- Seafood – fish, seaweed, shrimp
- Dairy products – milk, cheese, yoghurt
Dietary supplements in the market can also be a source of iodine. The supplements are usually available as sodium iodide or potassium iodide. Most of the multivitamin-mineral supplements also contain iodine.
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Prepared by: Wan Kei