In a bid to diminish the risk associated with coronary heart disease and obesity in South Africa, Pick n Pay on Wednesday announced that it had ensured its food products comply with the Department of Health’s regulations relating to trans fat foodstuffs which will be introduced in August.
“Millions of people are at risk of developing coronary heart disease in South Africa. It is the most common form of heart disease, characterised by the hardening of arteries due to a build-up of fatty deposits in the blood vessels,” said Pick n Pay dietician Teresa Harris. "We offer a variety of food products, but we have always considered the guarantee of safe food of good quality paramount to our business. To this end, we are ensuring that all Pick n Pay food products are in line with the Department of Health’s regulations," Harris said.
The Department of Health has ruled that as from the 17th August 2011, the sale, manufacture or importing of foodstuffs containing partially hydrogenated fats and oils will be prohibited. According to the Department, all food products need to contain less than two grams non-ruminant trans fats (or industrially manufactured trans fats) per 100 grams of fat.
Pick n Pay’s merchandise director Peter Arnold has confirmed that currently Pick n Pay’s technical team is reviewing the Pick n Pay product range to ensure that the levels of trans fatty acids comply with legislation. “We have requested analysis certificates from suppliers of vegetable fats and oils used in our products to make sure the final non-ruminant trans fatty acid value will not be more than 2% of total fats.”
Natural occurring trans fatty acids in animal fats may have health benefits and are therefore excluded from the proposed new legislation. Non-ruminant trans fats are man-made trans fats, also referred to as Industrially Processed-Trans Fatty Acids (IP-TFAs) which has been identified by scientists worldwide, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), to be one of the major factors contributing to the global pandemic of chronic diseases of lifestyle such as coronary heart disease and obesity.
Reduced salt content
The Department of Health furthermore plans to introduce legislation to lower the salt content of food. According to the Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, the South African diet has been shown to be very high in salt.
Said Harris: “We agree that high blood pressure contributes to the considerable burden of cardiovascular disease in South Africa and for this reason we are encouraged to implement strategies such as salt reduction to lower blood pressure. We adhere to strict development criteria as enforced by our category technical managers and new product development manager when formulating or developing our Pick n Pay ,” Harris said.
She added that one such criteria is to reduce sodium levels as far as possible to where the savoury taste profile is still acceptable to consumers. “For this reason, our food products undergo extensive tasting sessions, which is managed by the developer and confirmed by a formal in-house taste panel. Once approved the final product is sent to accredited laboratories for full nutritional testing to verify sodium levels.”
Said Harris: “We would like to urge our customers to make healthy food choices and to follow a healthy lifestyle.”
Harris recommends the following tips to manage your blood pressure:
- Maintain a healthy weight
Overweight people have a 2 to 6 folds greater risk of blood high pressure than normal-weight people. If you’re overweight, losing even 2 to 2.5 kilograms can help lower your blood pressure. Reaching your ideal body weight will provide an even greater blood pressure reduction.
- Increase your physical activity
Regular physical activity can help lower your blood pressure and keep your weight under control. Strive for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
- Limit the alcohol
Even if you’re healthy, alcohol can raise your blood pressure. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
- Decrease the salt in your diet
Excessive salt in your diet can lead to higher blood pressure. While you can reduce the amount of salt you eat by avoiding the salt-shaker, you should also pay attention to the amount of sodium that’s in the processed foods your eat. Eat bread and margarine in moderation.
- Stop smoking
Smoking causes an increase in blood pressure and affects your heartbeat.
- Check your blood pressure regularly
A family history of high blood pressure puts you at greater risk. It is highly recommended that you have your blood pressure regularly checked and monitored.