Iodine Global Network (IGN)

Russia prepares to review food legislation to improve iodine intakes

June, 2017
by Gregory Gerasimov IGN Regional Coordinator for Eastern Europe & Central Asia
Following a successful nationwide public health campaign, iodine nutrition in Russia has been on the lips of the national media, public health experts and, at last, the decision makers.
IGN’s Gregory Gerasimov (Regional Coordinator for Eastern Europe and Central Asia) and Michael Zimmermann (Chair of the Board) at the Round Table Meeting in St. Petersburg on 27 June 2017 entitled: “Iodine Deficiency Disorders in the 21st Century”
At a high-level inter-agency meeting on June 21, a draft amendment was discussed to the current Federal Law on the quality and safety of food products, which would require the addition of iodine to certain grades of retail table salt, and salt used in the production of bread and other baked goods. Use of iodized table salt would also be required by institutions providing catering services for children, pupils, patients, and athletes.

The meeting had broad representation from all key government stakeholders in the new law: Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Industry and Trade, as well as Rosstat (Russian Statistics Committee) and the Eurasian Commission—a governing body of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). The IGN was represented by Prof. Ekaterina Troshina of the Russian Endocrinology Research Center (RERC), who participated as an expert.

Although all government parties now agree that the recent momentum must be sustained, and IDD prevention activities should be enshrined in law, some discord remains regarding the extent to which salt iodization should be mandatory. At a subsequent expert meeting on June 23, the IGN Regional Coordinator, Prof. Gregory Gerasimov, made recommendations for the legislators to take into account decades of evidence in salt iodization policy and practice from other countries in the region and the world, including countries like Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands, which have successfully improved iodine intakes by fortifying bread with iodized salt. These recommendations have been shared with Dr. O. Sagalay, Director of Public Health Department of the MoH, who has led the recent revision efforts.

For years, experts including the IGN have campaigned for a change in legislation to ensure universal access to iodized salt for Russia’s most vulnerable population groups, such as reproductive-age and pregnant women. The recent evidence of commitmentAchtung Link öffnet sich in einem neuen Fenster from the Russian Minister of Health, Prof. Veronica Skvortsova is very encouraging and timely. New research, discussed at a Round Table Meeting hosted in St. Petersburg by the RERC and IGN on June 27, confirms that reproductive-age and pregnant women are at risk of iodine deficiency due to low intakes.