Building Capacity to Monitor Edible Salt
Iodine is one of the key micronutrients, essential for mental and physical development of human beings. Though, required in a very minute quantity (150–250 microgram per day), deficiency of iodine results in wide array of
preventable disorders collectively known as iodine deficiency disorders (IDD). To make it more affordable, it is added to the salt. However, consumers do not have any specific tool which would help them differentiate iodized salt from non-iodized salt. Iodine content in salt is not an important indicator for the consumers to decide on the preferred edible salt brand or type of salt. So in response to Nutritional International (NI) earlier known as Micronutrient Initiative (MI) proposal, Consumer VOICE is supporting NI in two salt producing states of Gujarat and Rajasthan and monitor edible salt at production and retail end. The project Building Capacity to Monitor Edible Salt was started in March 2017 and will be completed by February 2019.
History of Salt Iodisation in India
The Salt iodisation programme in India dates back to the late 50's when the classical study of Prof. V. Ramalingaswamy and his associates in Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh established Iodine deficiency as the factor for endemic goitre and consuming salt iodized with potassium-iodate as the most economic and easiest means of its prevention and control in a population. There has been significant improvement in making available quality iodised salt at the house hold level. Salt in India (second largest producer of iodised salt next to China) is being produced in 52 districts in the country. Iodine is one of the key micronutrients, essential daily for mental and physical development of human beings.
People who don't get enough iodine cannot make sufficient amounts of thyroid hormone. This can cause many problems especially in pregnant women and children. There is limited knowledge amongst the retailers, wholesalers and consumers on the need to consume iodized salt.
- To monitor edible salt at production and retail end.
- To campaign with key stakeholders and ensure effective enforcement of salt standards in the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
- Covering all the districts of both Rajasthan and Gujarat and collecting samples from each district was a huge task.
- Ensuring that no salt sample is left out and they were collected keeping the scientific methodology in mind.
- All the steps like quality control, sample masking, lab testing and evaluation had to be done with accuracy.
Our method of salt testing involved the following processes:
- Collecting minimum of 20 salt samples from each district per month of different types of salt (4 samples from the Public Distribution System, 4 samples from public feeding program and 12 samples from retail / wholesale shop every month).
- Further, 40 samples were collected from salt iodization units located in both the states on a monthly basis.
- Analyse samples in the organisation’s iodine testing laboratory to maintain records. This stage is still in process. 10% of the samples collected would be validated through an accredited lab.
- To prepare report based on analysis of salt testing result and discuss the same with the District Collector, Heads of various Government departments, Policy influencers and Policy makers.
- Quarterly reports would also be submitted to NI and if required mid-course correction will be done.
- Strategy also includes publishing of articles in Consumer VOICE magazine, running social media campaigns for wider outreach and campaigning in consultation with NI.
We are at the testing stage now. Consumer VOICE will start advocating soon and produce its report for further action.