BANGKOK, Dec 13 (The Straits Occasions/ANN): A salt tax, which was slated to have come into impact in Thailand this yr however was deferred, could possibly be applied subsequent yr with a lead time of 1 or two years for industries to adapt.

This was disclosed by the president of the Nephrology Society of Thailand, Dr Surasak Kantachuvesiri, who additionally chairs the Thai Low Salt Community marketing campaign.

A Thai individual consumes a median of three,636mg of sodium day by day – about 1.5 teaspoons of salt – virtually twice the World Well being Organisation’s advisable 2,000mg.

“It is in our tradition to eat salty meals, fermented meats and fish sauce,” stated Dr Surasak.

Some 10 per cent of the inhabitants, greater than seven million individuals, undergo from persistent renal failure, a doable results of excessive sodium consumption.

Different illnesses linked to extreme salt consumption embody hypertension, coronary heart illness and diabetes, that are additionally widespread within the kingdom.

Thanaphon Dokkaeo, president of Kidney Illness Associates’ Affiliation of Thailand, stated the present scenario is regarding.

“Not solely is the quantity of people that want dialysis rising, we additionally see extra individuals with remaining stage kidney failure,” he added.

The federal government’s aim is to chop day by day sodium consumption by 20 per cent inside 10 years, which is consistent with a sugar tax applied in 2017 that led to a discount in sugar content material in candy drinks.

A lot of international locations world wide, akin to Hungary, Portugal and Fiji, have applied levies on processed or packaged meals with excessive salt content material, whereas others have adopted sodium discount methods, akin to necessary diet labelling, client schooling and trade rules to encourage product reformulation.

Nevertheless, a salt tax will face challenges, stated stakeholders and observers, given {that a} packet of instantaneous noodles – a staple in Thailand – already accommodates 80 per cent of the WHO’s day by day urged consumption.

Some although have but to be satisfied in regards to the effectiveness of a salt tax in Thailand, given {that a} packet of instantaneous noodles – a staple within the kingdom – already accommodates 80 per cent of the WHO’s day by day urged consumption.

The recognition of instantaneous meals and the necessity for high-sodium condiments in Thai cooking will make it tough to persuade producers to reformulate present profitable merchandise because it may have an effect on their style and gross sales, stated Siradapat Ratanakorn, a regulatory affairs guide at regulation agency Tilleke & Gibbins’s.

“Sure firms have tried to launch new merchandise with much less sodium, however they can not regulate the top-selling product formulation,” she added, noting that some firms may select to pay the salt tax as a substitute of reformulating their merchandise if clients proceed to insist on shopping for these with increased salt content material.

Thai Meals Processors’ Affiliation president Tust Thangsombat agreed that there was nonetheless sturdy demand for “conventional” and “genuine” merchandise with increased salt content material.

“It is like providing Coke Zero. Individuals will nonetheless need the unique product,” he stated.

Moreover, not all corporations would have the ability to reformulate their merchandise and should push the burden of the salt tax to shoppers, he added.

However he believed there was little room for the trade to oppose the tax, particularly because it has been touted as a measure “for the nice of the individuals”.

“If we oppose it, we will likely be branded as dangerous individuals,” he stated, including that the “solely good factor” was that the tax wouldn’t be imposed instantly because the trade was nonetheless recovering from the affect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Whereas some corporations already manufacture more healthy merchandise with decrease sodium content material, Mr Tust stated the costs of such items had been normally increased as they’re aimed toward a distinct segment goal group.

Dr Surasak stated the proposed salt tax would have an effect on solely industrial meals, akin to instantaneous noodles, savoury snacks and frozen meals.

“It won’t have an effect on primary merchandise like salt or fish sauce,” he stated.

The eating habits of Thais will likely be one other impediment to lowering salt consumption.

Siradapat famous that surveys present that one-third of Thais eat out for his or her three day by day meals, whereas three-quarters eat their lunch exterior of their houses.

“The popular meals for the Thai inhabitants is road meals accessible from small curbside distributors. There usually are not many wholesome road meals choices,” she stated.

Dr Surasak stated that road meals contributed to just about half of the day by day sodium consumption amongst Thais.

“Clients ought to ask for much less salt or MSG once they order from road distributors. That is one thing shoppers and distributors should work on collectively,” he stated. – The Straits Occasions/ANN





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