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Sunday, 5 February 2006  
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Non-iodized salt causes health hazards

Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva on Friday said that he was disappointed over the consuming of non-iodized salt by a large percentage of people in the country due to lack of understanding on the risk of brain damages and other related disorders.

According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) survey, it is revealed that nearly 1.5 billion people in the world currently live with iodine deficiency and this resulted in over 170 million suffering from goitre and about 600 million being involved in brain damages.

It is also reported that 43 million babies are born every year with mental impairment caused by iodine deficiency.

In an interview with the Sunday Observer, Minister de Silva said that from the huge bulk of salt, currently produced by large and small scale salt manufacturers in Sri Lanka, only 30 per cent accurately maintains the accepted iodization standards.

"This situation reveals that a large percentage of people consume adulterated iodized salt and as a result they have become victims of numerous health hazards," he said.

The Minister is also of the view that some salt manufacturers are in the habit of mixing colours in their manufactured salt and deceive consumers, saying that they are properly manufactured according to the accepted standards.

Referring to a recently conducted program by the Health care and Nutrition Ministry in Colombo to provide assistance to countrywide salt producers to iodise the salt they manufacture, Minister Silva thanked the International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency (ICCIDD) and the Micronutrient Initiative (Asia) for granting a sum of Rs. 80 million to modernize the Hambantota and Puttalam salterns.

It is reported that under this novel program, these two organisations are expected to provide technical assistance and the know-how to these two major salt manufacturers in order to produce at least 75,000 metric tons of iodized salt which is the national requirement of the country.

Minister Silva further said that as the country was not self-sufficient in salt, around 10,000 metric tonnes were being imported from India annually and the health authorities had already been directed to make a thorough investigation into the iodization standards of such imported salt.


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