KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has mandated from September 30 the addition of iodine to all refined salt or salt 20kg or lighter before it can be sold in Malaysia.
Regular table salt (refined salt) generally contains added iodine to treat iodine deficiency that leads to thyroid problems like goiters (large neck growths). Unprocessed sea salt typically doesn’t contain added iodine, but it’s consumed by some people because it’s perceived to be healthier than table salt. Sea salt contains minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium that are stripped from table salt during manufacturing. Pink Himalayan salt, a type of rock salt, also likely contains less iodine than iodised salt, even if it may naturally contain some iodine, according to MedicalNewsToday.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Regulation 285 on iodised salt under the Food Regulations 1985 was gazetted on November 12, 2018, and would be enforced nationwide from this September 30.
He cited a nationwide survey that found 48.2 per cent of primary school children aged eight to 10 faced iodine deficiency. Besides that, 2.1 per cent of children suffered from goiters.
“Therefore, the implementation of universal iodisation in Malaysia will help increase iodine intake in the community, as salt is a basic ingredient used by all layers of society regardless of socioeconomic status,” Dr Noor Hisham said in a statement today.
“In this regard, MOH, through the Food Safety and Quality Division, will conduct monitoring and enforcement of this regulation once it is in force.”
Failure to comply with Regulation 285 is an offence punishable for retailers and manufacturers with a fine of up to RM10,000 or imprisonment of not more than two years.
Dr Noor Hisham added that the same regulation has previously been enforced in Sabah, but it will now be enforced nationwide.
It is unclear if gourmet sea salt that doesn’t contain added iodine will be required to be pulled from shelves, or if unprocessed sea salt will not be allowed to be sold in Malaysia from September 30.