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3 October 2011: HPB’s Centre of Excellence for Nutrition introduces “FINEST FOOD” Programme, in collaboration with SPRING Singapore and Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association, to encourage food companies to develop healthier salt and other functional food products Singapore appears to be a nation that loves its food salty, with eight in 10 Singapore residents exceeding the daily salt intake recommendation of less than 5g/day (equivalent to one teaspoon). The Health Promotion Board (HPB)'s Salt Intake Study, which was conducted as part of its 2010 National Nutrition Survey, has found that the individual's daily salt intake stands at 8.3g i.e. more than 60% above the recommended level. The Salt Intake Study comprised over 800 subjects aged 18-79 years.

2. The findings further revealed that adults aged 30-49 years consumed the most salt (about 9g/day); males also consumed more salt (nearly 10g/day) compared to their female counterparts (about 7g/day).

3. Most of the salt (60%) in the local diet comes from table salt and sauces. Of this, almost twothirds are consumed outside of the home. Processed food, especially fish balls, fish cakes, breads and noodles are estimated to contribute another 37% of the population's salt intake. The remainder is the salt found naturally in fresh food. These food contain salt as a major ingredient, and are also consumed in substantial amounts.

4. Excessive intake of salt is a key risk factor for the development of high blood pressure (i.e. hypertension). The prevalence of hypertension in Singapore currently stands at 23%. Hypertension, which does not carry any visible symptoms to the individual, is a silent killer as it attacks the body system and can cause deadly consequences such as stroke, heart attack and kidney failure.

5. HPB Chief Executive Officer Mr Ang Hak Seng said, “Salt is a double-edged sword, when not handled with care. While a little salt may enhance the flavor of food, over consumption can raise blood pressure, which in turn is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Even small dietary salt reductions can lower blood pressure and the incidence of stroke and heart disease. Studies have estimated that a reduction in daily salt intake of about 1g can lower blood pressure by an average of 2 mmHg, which can reduce the incidence of stroke by about 10% and that of heart disease by 5%.”

6. “Local food companies play a vital role in producing local healthier food alternatives for our domestic market. Hence, HPB's Centre of Excellence for Nutrition (CoEN) is collaborating with the private sector partner - Singapore Food Manufacturers Association (SFMA) – to make healthier food pervasive.

7. “Together with SFMA and SPRING, CoEN's new FINEST (Functional, Innovative, Nutritious, Effective, Science-based & Tasty) Food Programme will take the lead in equipping SMEs with knowledge and skills to develop functional healthier products to address the nutritional and health needs of the population. This includes hypertension, diabetes and heart disease, especially with our rapidly aging population. We are already working with industry partners to develop a 'healthier salt' and other food with lower sodium content. This HCS salt has 25% less sodium3 compared to regular salt. We aim to reduce the proportion of people exceeding the daily salt recommendation by 30% (from 8 in 10 to 6 in 10) by 2015.”

8. To ensure that technical resources are in place, the FINEST FOOD Programme will also harness food science expertise from knowledge institutions such as the Food Innovation and Resource Center at Singapore Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic, to supervise and test-bed the healthier product formulation to ensure its suitability for market consumption. Local food companies can tap the existing Technology Innovation Programme to adopt technology innovation or Innovation Voucher Scheme to develop innovative food products, including functional food. Both programmes are administered by SPRING Singapore. Food ingredients or composition that may provide a health benefit beyond basic nutritional value. Sodium found in salt and other food is the compound which raises blood pressure when consumed in excess.

9. For some forward thinking companies, several reformulation projects are already underway. CoEN is presently in collaboration with Siem Trading (the producer of Pagoda Salt) to manufacture a “healthier salt” that meets the nutritional guidelines for the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS). Food companies Prima Taste, Woh Hup, Tai Hua and Sin Hwa Dee are also looking into reformulating their sauces and pastes to contain less salt. Additionally, local food manufacturer Ha Li Fa, has recently developed their popular BoBo fish balls and fish cakes to have a lower salt content. Some of these products (e.g. the “healthier salt”) will be promoted for use in hawker centres and other food service establishments.

ANNEX 1 – Key Findings from the Salt Intake Study
ANNEX 2 – Sources of Salt in the Singapore Diet
ANNEX 3 – Fact Sheet on FINEST FOOD Programme
ANNEX 4 – Fact Sheet on Innovation Scheme Voucher (IVS) and Technology Innovation Programme (TIP)
ANNEX 5 – Frequency Asked Questions

Issued by Health Promotion Board