Iodine Global Network (IGN)

Iodine deficiency threatens Cambodia

Labels on salt packages that say it includes iodine are misleading and as a result iodine deficiency is once again a serious health threat in Cambodia, despite a 2003 sub-decree requiring all salt producers to ensure their product contains iodine, an official said yesterday.

New data shows that iodine deficiency rates are nearing the levels detected in 1997, when 1.7 million Cambodians were estimated to suffer from iodine deficiency, the official said yesterday.

Chan Puong Vathana, a member of the National Sub-committee for Elimination of Iodine Deficiency, said salt producers were failing to abide by the 2003 sub-decree requiring iodine to be added to salt.

“In markets consumers see the labels saying ‘iodine included’ and they use this salt every day, but in fact this salt does not include iodine or includes just a little – not enough for health,” he said. “We passed a law but no one is implementing it,” Mr. Vathana said.

Mr. Vathana said it was the job of the Industry Ministry and the Commerce Ministry to monitor salt production to ensure it contains iodine. “Our sub-committee is just a technical group that does research for national policy,” he explained.

Um Sotha, a spokesman for the Industry Ministry, said it was working to ensure iodine was included in salt, adding that “sometimes reports differ from reality.”

He said the ministry had a working group in charge of monitoring salt production to ensure iodine is included in salt, and urged it to look into this issue.


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