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19 Mar 2019, Edition - 1344, Tuesday

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Coimbatore

Iodised salt sans iodine being sold in Nilgiris

Prasath Selvaraj

A good part of iodised salt sold in the Nilgiris has little iodine, a vital micronutrient the body needs. This shocking truth was revealed in tests conducted over six months by the Consumer Protection and Environmental Research Centre, Thiruvarur, and the Centre for Consumer Human Resources and Environment Protection (CCHEP), Gudalur.

Under a special programme involving consumers, samples were collected from a number of places in the Nilgiris such as Udhagamandalam, Coonoor, Gudalur and Pandalur and tested till September.

Incidentally, a month later is the World Iodine Deficiency Day on October 21 aimed at creating awareness about iodine whose deficiency can lead to intellectual disabilities as also goitre or enlarged thyroid gland, according to studies.

Samples of all the types of salts sold in the Nilgiris were collected by consumers and college students as part of the World Iodine Deficiency Day and tested at the Thiruvarur laboratory.

CCHEP general secretary S Sivasubramaniam told The Covai Post that the iodine level in the salt should be 30 ppm (parts per million) during the time of production and should not be below 15 ppm when packed and sold.

Of the 126 samples collected, 55 were found to have iodine below the standard 15 ppm level and 38 had no iodine content at all. Salts having low iodine level are not fit for consumption, he says.

Notices were sent to the companies producing salt below the standard iodine level. But firms put the blame on shopkeepers arguing that they stacked the packets in sacks which remained exposed to extreme sunlight or rain, resulting in low iodine level when tested, he said. But what remained inexplicable was that some of the samples had no iodine content at all.

There were also instances of shops selling salt with fake company labels. A majority of the shops had stocked the cheaper salt used for preservation like in the case of dried fish or meat. These varieties do not have the standard iodine content, he said.

“To ensure that iodine content in salt was maintained at the required levels, shopkeepers needed to have a safe storage mechanism in place. Action will be taken against the shopkeepers selling low quality salt,” Sivasubramaniam added.

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