Groups support a bill that exempts local sea salt from the Asin Act

FOOD entrepreneurs and exporters no longer want to make the non-iodization of salt a sin under the law.

In a position paper a multisectoral group Competitiveness Currency Forum (CCF) rallied House Bill (HB) 4939, submitted by Rep. Ron P. Salo of Kabayan and Virgilio S. Lacson of Manila Teachers. The proposed law of Salo and Lacson tries to exempt local sea salt from compulsory iodization. Sea salt must be iodized according to Republic Act 8172, or the law for salt ionization nationally (Asin).

"When the Asin Act was issued, mandatory iodization by the World Health Organization [WHO] was recommended as the most cost-effective method to address iodine deficiency disorder [IDD] of some children," CCF said. "However, the law proved to be a trade obstacle to the development of the Philippine sea salt industry and even led to its deterioration."

Referring to a 2011 study by the American Nutrition Society, the CCF added that Filipinos are susceptible to iodine-induced hyperthyroidism (IIH). It suggested that the Philippine national health research system should be instructed to take alternative measures to address IIH among the population and to take targeted iodine supplements.

The group argued that compulsory iodization made it difficult for food entrepreneurs and exporters to move along the road. global culinary trend, where it claimed to favor natural sea salt over iodized. Currently, 80 percent of the salt sold in the Philippines is imported from Australia, which according to CCF remains iodized.

"The imported Australian salt is less healthy because of the high purity of sodium chloride," said the group

] The CCF noted that "global culinary trend prefers natural sea salt due to the presence of other chlorides and trace elements it becomes tastier. "

"The Philippine sea salt is related to the famous fleur de sel, and the Philippines is one of the few countries that can meet the growing demand," CCF said. "The other chlorides and trace minerals in Philippine sea salt can also tackle other mineral deficiencies."

In documents obtained by the BusinessMirror, President Clara R. Lapus of Mama Sita Foundation Inc. to the trade secretary Ramon M. Lopez the dilemma of food manufacturers brought about by the Asin law. Lapus told Lopez at a meeting in June that dozens of local food products, such as sweet potato chips with iodized salt, denied access to Japan, the country's largest export market.

Indigenous white cheese makers also complain about the chemical taste of iodized salt that is changing the fermentation of their products, she added. Lapus aims for changes to the Asin Act to allow food producers to use natural sea salt, not only for export goods, but also for domestic consumption.

"Only because the WHO thinks it is the cheapest way to reduce the iodine deficiency of some Filipinos, even those who do not have iodine deficiency, are forced to ingest iodized salt," Lapus added. Why do not they develop seaweed snacks for those who need iodine? "

She called on Lopez to support HB 4939, which the trade commissioner reportedly gave his word to argue for specific changes to the law.

HB 4939 strives to re-order the Asin Act and add Section 6 that exempts the Philippine sea salt from compulsory iodization. "Producers of sea salt will register with the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] who will inspect and assess samples of their products to determine if it the definition of sea salt falls, "according to the proposed provision.

" The FDA will issue guidelines and standards for identifying Philippine sea salts, maintaining a register of sea salt producers and the correct certificate or authorization for the continuation of the operation of the producers. This certificate or this authorization serves to protect sea salt producers against harassment of local authorities and allegations of non-compliance with the iodization requirements under this Act, "it added.

HB 4939, awaiting deliberations in the House Committee on Health also intends to allow food producers to use sea salt in their products, but they must prove that the use of sea salt improves the quality of their food products.

The measure defines the Philippine sea salt as salt produced by the evaporation of seawater in one of the salt companies in the archipelago, the preparation of which must include little or no processing.

In their explanation, Salo and Lacson state that various provisions of the 23-year-old Asin law have been disputed in recent years. mostly due to its negative effect on local salt farmers.

"The Philippines are a coastal plan d, a significant number of small-scale salt producers have been disadvantaged by the implementation of the law, "according to the law. "The Ministry of Trade and Industry has pointed out that the local salt industry finds it difficult to compete with the global salt and food products market with salt, due to the limitation for salt producers to offer a wide range of different types of salt, even on the domestic market. "

" Asin's law also limits innovations on the type of salt that matches the needs of a product, and also leads to the loss of certain nutrients during processing, "Salo and Lacson pointed out. "This way small local salt farmers can not compete with large salt producers, especially on the world market."

Last year, the country imported 517.405.2 tons (MT) of salt of $ 24.05 million, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed. This was higher than the 477,507.5 tons of salt obtained in 2016.

On the other hand, the country exported 439,362 tons of salt last year, valued at $ 56,479. The volume could be higher than the 282,307 tons of traded salt in 2016, but the value was 2.72 percent lower than the $ 5662 that year.

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