South Africans can expect the introduction of laws restricting fatty acids and salt content in food, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Saturday.
Speaking at a meeting of editors in Cape Town, he outlined his ministry’s intentions to make South Africans healthier and to help them live longer.
He also highlighted the destruction caused by “non-communicable” diseases.
“If we don’t act [on HIV, tuberculosis, maternal and child death rates and violent deaths] our life expectancy by 2016 will be back to what it was in 1965,” he said.
Key factors in these non-communicable diseases were smoking, alcohol consumption, poor diets and a lack of exercise.
‘We need laws’
“Countries must make laws to deal with these issues … We will be making a lot of noise about these during the year.”
On South Africans’ poor diet, Motsoaledi made it clear that fats and salt –“much beloved by the food industry, but hated by our hearts” — would be targeted.
With a global population of 0.7%, South Africans carried more than 1% of the burden of non-communicable diseases. This was two to three times higher than the average for developing countries.
“We need to control fatty acids … we need to control salts, such as brine in chicken and salt in bread, cereals and soups,” Motsoaledi said.
“We need laws to reduce the levels of these things in our food … If we have to go to Parliament to legislate it, we will.” –Sapa