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Salt iodine levels to be reduced

The Ministry of Health plans to lower the level of iodine in salt in the first half of next year, People's Daily reported today, as excessive levels of iodine can lead to thyroid cancer.

The current level, 30 milligram of iodine per kilogram of salt, will be reduced to a more suitable level and some provincial and municipal health authorities can fine tune the level according to their circumstances with the supervision of the ministry, the report said.

The plan is being reviewed by the national food additives standard committee, and then it will go to National Standards Administration for final approval.

Most of the Chinese residents have suitable iodine level, with few areas higher than international standard, Li Sumei, an official from the ministry said in the report. In these areas including Shandong, Hebei and Jiangsu province, iodine has mostly been removed from salt.

Excessive levels of iodine could lead to hyperthyroidism, which speeds up the metabolism, and even thyroid cancer, Shanghai-based Youth Daily reported today.

China, once one of the iodine-lacking nations in the world, started adding iodine to salt in 1995.Five national iodine-related illness investigations between 1995 and 2005 showed 95.4 percent of residents had iodine salt in 2005, a jump from 39.9 percent in 1995.

Most residents in Tibet and Hainan still lack iodine, the report said.

In Shanghai, a large iodine level check will be carried out soon, Li Shanguo, an official from Shanghai Health Bureau, said yesterday in today?s Wenhui Daily.

Most Shanghai residents don?t lack iodine, and the level doesn?t exceed the World Health Organization limit.

The iodine level in salt in Shanghai could be reduced to half the current level, or 15 milligram in a kilogram of salt, Professor Ning Guang from Ruijin University said in the report.


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