The consumer watchdog is warning Hongkongers that some popular condiments, such as oyster sauce and chili sauce, contain high levels of salt or sugar, Ming Pao Daily reported Friday.
The public should choose carefully among various condiments in the market and use them moderately in preparing food, the Consumer Council said Thursday.
Too much salt can cause high blood pressure and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, while too much sugar can lead to diabetes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily intake by a healthy adult of no more than 2,000mg (that is, 2 grams) of sodium (a key component of salt).
Based on three meals a day, the sodium intake should be limited to less than 667mg per meal.
For sugar, the WHO recommends an adult should limit the intake of free sugars (any sugar added to food plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices) to less than 50g a day, equivalent to about 10 level teaspoons of table sugar.
After examining 65 samples of condiments including oyster sauce, ketchup, XO sauce and chili sauce, the council found a generally high content of sodium and sugar in oyster sauce, which contains the highest level of sodium among all the condiments.
One teaspoon of Fuji oyster sauce, a Japanese brand, was found to contain 5,100mg of sodium per 100g, suggesting that consuming more than two teaspoons would exceed the WHO’s recommended intake of 667 mg of sodium per meal.
Although the sodium content in the samples of tomato ketchup wasn’t high, the sugar content was found to be generally high, probably because more sugar is needed to neutralize the sour taste of tomatoes, the council said.
Of the 15 ketchup samples surveyed, the one with the highest sugar content was found to contain 26.4g.
Bernard Chan, a member of the Executive Council who chairs the Committee on Reduction of Salt and Sugar in Food, said it has discussed with condiment makers how to reduce the two ingredients in their products through a voluntary tagging system.
Chan said a proposal is expected in mid-2016 and he hoped the system will be launched before the end of the year.
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