Call For Food Producers To Help Tackle Sodium Levels

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Health Minister, Donville Inniss

The Ministry of Health and the National Chronic Non-Communicable Disease (CNCD) Commission are playing a leading role in raising awareness about the need to reduce the amount of sodium (salt) in the local diet. However, there is a need for local food producers and manufacturers to come on board, as well.

Health Minister, Donville Inniss made this assertion, while speaking to some 40 members of the Barbados Manufacturers Organisation last Wednesday at a seminar on The Benefits of Reducing Salt for Producers/Manufacturers and the Community.??

In his address, he outlined that alliances would be critical to addressing the associated lifestyle-related conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, as well as obesity, inappropriate eating habits and low levels of physical activity.

The Health Minister, therefore, called for frank discussion and "aggressive actions" by manufacturers, in the home, the community, at school and in the workplace.??

"Food consumption surveys have demonstrated that our diets are too high in overall calories… In addition, the consumption of sodium, fats, sugar and refined carbohydrates is also above recommended levels," Mr. Inniss stressed.

??He added:?? "…There is a need for a new vision.?? One which seeks to address national level nutritional well-being and public health issues in terms of food production, marketing and the general food supply system."

While pointing to the ongoing salt reduction campaign by the Commission, the manufacturers were urged to examine the actions of food and beverage producers across the world.??

"In some instances products have been reformulated, while in other circumstances, producers have made commitments to reduce sodium by up to 20 per cent.?? From this you can see that the food production industry here in Barbados, as in other countries, has a strong role to play in bringing about change in sodium levels," the Health Minister noted.

Participants in the workshop included representatives from:?? Emerald City Supermarket, West India Biscuit Company Limted, The Beef Eater Limited, Roberts Manufacturing Company Limited, BICO Limited, Supercentre Limited, HIPAC Limited and Purity Bakeries. Presentations were made by Nutrition Officer, Dianne Broome; Community Nutrition Officer, Karen Griffith and Chairperson of the CNCD Commission, Professor, Trevor Hassell.

The workshop was hosted by the CNCD Commission as a lead-up to its patronage of the annual Agrofest exhibition which will run from February 25-27. It is being staged under the theme, Achieving Healthy Lifestyles Through Agriculture.??????

lbayley@barbados.gov.bb

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