Korean FDA Drastically Reduces Sodium Content in Foods

From Naver:

Foods Like Ramen and Kimchi Show a Reduction in Sodium by 21%

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Korean FDA: “Pushing forward the policy to reduce sodium.”

On July 18th, the Ministry of Drug and Food Safety announced it has reduced the average amount of sodium contained in processed foods by 21% since 2012.

In 2012, the number of reduced sodium products was 52, in 2013, 58, and in the first half of this year the number has already reached 70 products. Each year, the number of participating businesses is only growing.

Among the food groups, noodle-based foods like ramen have had the most sodium-reduced products with 60 foods making the list. Meanwhile, there were 16 sauce-based products, 9 kimchi-based products, and 9 cheese-based products. On average, the cheese-based foods showed a drop of 32.5% in sodium, the highest of all.

Ottogi (46 products), Nongshim (27 products), Daesang (15 products), among others have aggressively joined in efforts to reduce levels of sodium in their products.

Among the individual products which have shown the sharpest decrease in sodium are Myun Sarang Pyeongyang Mulnengmyun (with a 59.2% decrease from before), Jo-eun Sangpoom Children’s Cheese (47.1%), Tojong Woncho Gwihan Laver (45.5%), Children’s Enfant Cheese (45.1%), and Wonmul Sanduelae Beef (41.7%).

Popular products like Shin Ramyeon (9.6%), Alkeunhan Neoguri (13.3%), and Wangddukkeong (29.2%) also successfully reduced their sodium levels.

The Korean FDA explained that, “There was concern over a possible decline in sales if the sodium content was lowered, but actually we concluded that the sales haven’t been wildly impacted at all and the rate of participation has only grown.”

Not only the processed foods industry, but the dining out food industry as well is participating in reducing sodium content.

Last year 8 restaurants including Nolboo Budae Jjigae, Bongchu Jjimdalk, Onigiri and Gyudong dropped the sodium content of 18 menu items. This year, 7 others including Lotteria, Seven Springs, and HanSot Doshirak have plans to lower the sodium in their menus as well.

Also 12 food-service enterprises including DongWon Foods, Samsung Wellstory, Shinsegae Foods, and Our Home are currently testing an effort for “Fresh and Healthy Food Services” that keeps sodium contents at 1,300 mg per serving.

The Ministry of Drug and Food Safety said: “The voluntary efforts of the food industry’s and their dedication to lowering the sodium content of its products places Korean citizens 5th among the OECD nations for sodium intake.” They also stated that “This is a solid plan to develop the technology that, along with administrative support, will one day truly show that both sodium reduction technology and policy can go hand in hand.”

Comments from Naver:
saku****:

It’s a great policy. There is a reason why S. Korea ranks #1 in the world for stomach cancer. Salty things just aren’t good for the body.

rt33****:

Low-sodium diets are healthy.

silv****:

Would food companies only be lowering the sodium content? They might also be lowering some other content.

lade****:

If you add a dash of salt because the taste is too plain, the effort becomes useless.

dhxo****:

When you’re cooking using a powder, if you limit yourself to just a dash, that’s fine…

vant****:

If you raise the price with the facade of it being ‘healthy food’, I’m gonna kill you.

naga****:

Reducing sodium is a great thing but to maintain taste, I sure hope they aren’t tossing in other chemicals or additives.

tiny****:

They will lower the sodium but the price will go up. Just like Spam Lite, ke. I really don’t get it. If you reduce the sodium content then the production price should fall as well. So, why do they sell it for more?

ship****:

They will just put the new labels for ‘low-sodium and well-being food’ and the price will go up!

choi****:

I think it’s a good idea. It’s better that the products have much less sodium content and you can add salt as needed to fit your taste.

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  • bang2tang

    possibly related to Yoo Chae Young ?

    • dood

      She got stomach cancer drinking outrageous amounts of soda pops per day, and having a very poor diet consisting of salty snacks and sugary coffee.

  • Doon

    This is a great example of government led health initiatives. Despite what we like to think, Korean food actually isn’t very healthy overall and one huge reason for that is natrum. So its good that they are trying to reduce it. Like netizens said stomach cancer is a huge problem in Korea. My father has problems with his stomach his doctor told that Koreas stomach cancer rate is over 20x higher than the UK.
    This kind of thing is a great for us koreans health.

    • KCdude

      “natrum”? Oh, you mean “sodium”. Or simply “(dietary) salt” in plain English. My mistake for mis-understanding.

      • bang2tang

        natrium

        • KCdude

          Gosh, I don’t like obscure Ancient Greek words in modern English.

          • bang2tang

            I guess you hate chemistry class

      • Doon

        Yes sorry. I often get mixed with chemical names from korean and english. We call sodium natrium. its a common mistake for me

    • nita

      I’ve never read anything about salt causing stomach cancer before (although it does cause other problems obviously).

      There are studies showing that sodium nitrate and nitrite causing stomach cancer though. These are preservatives found in processed meats like ham, bacon, hot dogs, sausages, etc. Obviously Americans eat a lot of these things, and it’s a problem that our government doesn’t mention this danger more. But I highly doubt that salt itself can cause stomach cancer.

      • Doon

        Fermentation and salt or the two main culprits and the obvious reasons for Korea and Japan being 1 and 2 for stomach cancer. They both eat a lot of fermented food. Salt is often a big part of the fermentations.

        • David

          Why don’t you come back to the discussion when you understand medicine a little better. Just typing things that you ‘know’ to be true does not make it a fact. Also, while your trying to understand the difference between stomach ‘ulcers’ and stomach ‘cancer’ you can look them up and see they are caused by something different. Making connections based on patterns you think you see (Koreans and Japanese are number 1 and 2 in stomach cancer because they eat a lot of fermented and salty food) is just dumb. If this were the connection (and not the close genetic pool they both come from or similar environmental factors) what about the other nations that eat the same type of food that are NOT in the top 50 countries for stomach cancer?

    • gfh

      Let’s have the government make our decisions for us, they know what’s best!

      Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Low sodium foods in Korea will be like low sodium foods in the US. Only the people who are health conscious or have a pallete sensitive to sodium buys that crap. Everyone else buys the regular. If forced to only buy the low sodium, they’ll just add more salt. WhenbI was in the ROK, one guy made that Shin ramen but put too much water. They just added a boatload of kimchi. There’s your salt right there. You’re going to have as much luck reducing sodium intake drastically as the US Deep South does of not eating fried food, or ze Germans and their salted and cured meats.

      • Joey

        What happened to personal responsibility? Well, just look at the USA…

      • Doon

        Why not? Government should regulate things like that. Look at the obesity rate in many countries. That is the result of personal responsibility. People obviously cant control themselves so the government needs to step in and control it. I know you think that might be taking away your “freedom”, but giant fat people dont deserve that freedom. They are irresponsible.

        • David

          If people are informed and can’t control themselves (or chose not to) they die. Much of life is like that, not just food. I may feel that eating fried foods for 60 years is a better quality of life than living 80 years without them (although there are lots of old people in the south who live a long time). I don’t smoke but everybody on the planet knows it is bad for (and have known for 50 years). But if my friend wants to kill himself I can only talk to him not make the decision for him.

          • Doon

            But then you put strain on the health system. Cancers, heart disease etc cost hundreds of millions of dollars to treat every year. This burden isnt just on you, its on your fellow citizens.
            It’s a nice idea that you have, free choice etc, but this isnt the wild jungle. Isnt that why we choose to live in society?
            I know governments go too far and focus on bs. But for example, NYC tried to, or did??, banned huge sodas. They showed the cup size. What kind of beast needs to drink that amount of sodas? It’s crazy. I say good. Sugar is as addictuve as crack i have read. It doesnt even mean you is weak to give in and eat a cake. Our brains are programmed to devour that high energy stuff. We need regulations because a lot of us (me too sometimes) cant control us! Usually i dont agree with koreas government, but here i really really do.
            Also business must accomodate obese people with bigger seats etc.

          • David

            And it is a terrible idea you have, controlling the choices of others. That is called Fascism. You want Korea to go back to what it was like in the 80’s? 70’s? I lived there then, it was terrible for the Korean people. They restricted the import and sale of all kinds of things like liquor, coffee, peanut butter. . .They were freed from the oppression of Japanese colonialism to simply install their own dictators. Fascists talk about rights and choice and everything is great as long as you have the exact same thoughts as them. If you disagree with them, they want to force you. If you like being told what to eat and drink move to North Korea. I don’t drink any soda, or anything else with caffeine but that does not mean the person next to me does not have the right to gorge himself on a 300oz super drink if he wants. Yours is certainly not only not the only way to live but not the best. My healthcare system in my country pays for itself by increasing the cost of doing medicine in relation to supply and demand. The insurance premiums for people who have high risk behavior goes up for those people and down for people who are at a low risk. Insurance companies have actuaries who use precise mathematical formulas and 200 years of history to tell exactly how many people out of 1,000,000 will have heart attacks. They do those calculations for all diseases. You do not save a people by having a “Great Leader” tell them what to do, I thought you would know that. If they can not survive as a people by making their own choices then they will die out. Like Japan is doing.

          • Doon

            Yes. This is exactly like facism. Using that word like a first year undergrad takes all meaning and power away from the word. Japanese colonialism? What are you talking about. This is not comparable in any way what so ever.
            Seatbelts?
            Traffic laws?
            Are these things facisms too?

            I’m guessing you are some sort of fedora wearing neckbeard. No one is coming to your house and confiscating the salts. No one is stopping you adding salts. It’s a small measure that can be done to reduce the baseline that will help reduce salt intake by some small amount. Because many diseases related to salt intake are on the rise. Just like if cyclists smash their head when riding a bike the government iimplements a helmet law.
            I think that was Hitlerss first piece of legislation in 1933. All Germans must wear a helmet while on a bike. And we all know where that led!!!!!

          • David

            Yes, when you can not win an argument makes a personal attack. It makes you sound even dumber. As far as seatbelts and traffic laws; you apparently do not understand the difference between laws controlling free market products for sale (personal property from a company to personal property of a persona) and laws to ensure efficient, safe and effective transportation. You should stop reading now, before the big words give you a headache.

          • laws controlling free market products for sale (personal property from a company to personal property of a persona)

            …you mean like laws requiring seatbelts in automobiles?

          • David

            Now I am starting to wonder if you are continuing a real discussion or just looking for a reaction from me. I don’t believe you do not understand the difference between operating a motor vehicle in public (few people simply drive around their 10,000 ranch with their car) and all the connections between public safety (i.e. the laws and codes covering the manufacturing requirements, regulation of licenses, the training and practice). You can not ‘add’ seat belts to a car afterwards if you want. However, making it the law in some countries is, in many people’s opinions, going over the line from government being helpful to government being controlling. But that is a different discussion.

          • Yes, many people consider requiring seatbelts to be going over the line, and your comment implied you’re one of them.

            The fact is, your use of the word “fascism” to describe government efforts to reduce sodium consumption is terribly inappropriate. When you bring up North Korea and dictatorships in response to combating high sodium intake, it appears that you are the one who is looking for a reaction.

          • x1sfg

            Easy fix. Don’t have a system that makes other people pay for your choices. NYC banning sodas was stupid on the governor’s part. I’m sure you like the Patriot Act too, it’s for your safety, you know. Think of the children. Your inability to control your sugar intake shouldn’t punish everyone else. Guess what, New York still has fatasses, and the soda ban won’t help. I know you mean the best, but I seriously doubt your worldly experience if you think bans like this are effective, not to mention the whole Constitution and natural liberty speal and all.

            It’s going to be even more effective than Prohibition and the War on Drugs, right? Especially a limit on a substance you can get anywhere practically for free. I can see it working!

          • The concept isn’t to prevent people from being able to consume sodium; it’s to reduce the default amount of added sodium in certain products so that people can choose for THEMSELVES how much sodium they wish to consume. Get over yourself and your childish “FREEEEDOM!!!!” tirade.

        • x1sfg

          So freedom should only be for a selected group of people, and let the .gov make our choices? Like the PRC, Hitler, the monarchs of Europe, feudal Japan. So what if people are obese, I can stand for other people being fat as long as it doesn’t infringe upon my right to pur however much salt I want on my food. You are ridiculous.

          • NO ONE is infringing upon your right to pour however much salt on your food as you want. Get that through your thick fucking skull.

            You think freedom should only be for those like you who want to consume as much sodium as “freedomly” possible. In your mind, “fuck those who wish to have the freedom to NOT consume a ton of sodium.”

            You are the one infringing upon other people’s right to healthy prepared meals. You are ridiculous. When Park Geun-hye comes knocking at your door to confiscate your salt shaker, THEN you’ll have a valid reason to whine.

      • Ruaraidh

        I think companies should be able to put opium or asbestos into food and it’s my personal responsibility to know the chemical nomenclature of all potentially undesirable additives.

        • x1sfg

          Are you suggesting a known carcinogen is the same as salt, the most abundant seasoning in earth? Hardly the same thing, especially when people can get around forced low sodium regulations.

          • Ruaraidh

            Some people are actually capable of communicating in metaphor. Please contain your adulation though, I find being worshipped by primitives acutely embarrassing.

      • Phil Phakename

        Yes! And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of building codes. People should take responsibility for the buildings they live in and let the market decide. Let’s get rid of safety regulations on cars and let the markets decide whether to have seat belts or strong frames or safety glass.

        • x1sfg

          Not the same thing. One is industry regulation which I agree with, the other is limiting consumer choices. People were shitting in meat plants in Chicago back in the day, that’s wrong. But trying to say I absolutely cannot buy shit-in-meat is another. One limit is individual liberty, the other, well… If you can’t grasp the difference, then you’re a lost cause.

          Having industries made to be held responsible for their products and preventing information asymmetry is one thing. Trying to limit personal utility choices, especially with something like salt is wrong.

          • You’re acting like people are being prevented from consuming sodium, which isn’t even REMOTELY the case. You liberty fetishists are such hypocrites. There are THOUSANDS if not MILLIONS of options for those who wish to consume all the sodium to their heart’s content (or at least until it bursts), but a couple dozen products offer reduced sodium options for people who wish to reduce their sodium intake and you fascists scream bloody murder.

            God forbid people have the right to have the option of choosing reduced sodium alternatives.

          • David

            The article is about more options available with reduced sodium but the comments are not. Your argument is a straw-man. The comments are in response to the fascist idea of forcing people to only have choices among “healthier” foods. Nobody has complained they don’t want choices increased, they are complaining that choices are being taken away. In a free society, people have the right to choose for themselves, no be told what they have to eat.

            Adding reduced sodium choices is a great idea. Making it the only choice because you have decided you know what is better for everybody is a terrible idea.

          • You know what’s a straw-man? Acting like reducing sodium in 70 products somehow dictates the national food supply.

            I’d like to quote a comment with which you may be familiar:

            70 products with reduced salt are available? not 70% of items, only 70 items in ALL of Korea? Hey I like personal responsibility and I like making my own choices but of the tens thousands of food items available in Korea if you want to reduce your salt intake (usually a good thing
            for most older people considering among other things blood pressure) you really still don’t seem to have much of a choice. Also the article said 18 restaurants have reduced salt options on 80 items. That means each of these few restaurants, on average, has choices for reduced salt on 4.4 items. Of the thousands of restaurants in Korea. I really do not understand why the writer of this article sounds so upbeat. Sounds like a total failure for the FDA in Korea who has been working on this for years. Yes, it is a start (and good for them for even starting), but a start should be built upon not trumpeted like a success.

            Are you a different person masquerading under the same username and avatar? Or do you just have multiple personality disorder?

          • David

            Not at all. I like the idea of offering reduced sodium products. My comments were not about what the government is actually doing, as in the article. They are in response to Doon’s idea of

            “Why not? Government should regulate things like that. Look at the obesity rate in many countries. That is the result of personal responsibility. People obviously cant control themselves so the government needs to step in and control it. I know you think that might be taking away your “freedom”, but giant fat people dont deserve that
            freedom. They are irresponsible.” and

            “But then you put strain on the health system. Cancers, heart disease etc cost hundreds of millions of dollars to treat every year. This burden isnt just on you, its on your fellow citizens. It’s a nice idea that you have, free choice etc, but this isnt the wild jungle. Isnt that why we choose to live in society? I know governments go too far and focus on bs. But for example, NYC tried to, or did??, banned huge sodas. They showed the cup size. What kind of
            beast needs to drink that amount of sodas? It’s crazy. I say good. Sugar is as addictuve as crack i have read. It doesnt even mean you is weak to give in and eat a cake. Our brains are programmed to devour that high energy stuff. We need regulations because a lot of us (me too
            sometimes) cant control us! Usually i dont agree with koreas government, but here i really really do.”

            THAT is what the comments were in response to, which I thought you would know since they were embedded and written as responses. This guy’s contempt for people is not even veiled. He has twice referred to people who make a decision to use their own money to buy a legal product as animals. He thinks they need to be controlled like animals ‘for their own good’

          • First off, people are animals. [/pet peeve]

            Secondly, fair enough, but you’re crediting him with far too much power. Reality is the complete opposite of what he’d like. In most of the world (Islamic countries being the main exception), there are no restrictions on dietary habits whatsoever. Anyone practically anywhere in the world could legally consume an entire gallon of salt if he or she so wished. It’s like if someone said, “There should be no pollution”, and you pounced on him for daring to try to restrict the global economy. Chill; you’ve already won the battle. Billions of people are consuming all the processed junk “food” their wallets will allow and ballooning themselves to unprecedented levels of morbid obesity, straining national healthcare systems worldwide as taxpayer funds are diverted toward covering the skyrocketing costs. You’ve won! No need to fret over some fascist Internet commentator expressing displeasure with that.

      • PixelPulse

        What the hell is up with people like you that gets so pissed off about government trying to make food healthier? Is trying to make the food industry a little better so bad for you to get this upset about? This kind of anger honesty confuses me.

        • David

          There is nothing wrong with the government encouraging the sale of low sodium products. But that is not the same as eliminating the sale of things with high salt levels. As adults we get to chose what we want to put into our bodies. And even things with high salt content, taken in moderation, are in no way unhealthy for you.

          • Considering many Koreans either eat out or eat packaged foods, it’s hard to consume sodium in moderation when every offering in the national food supply (excluding 70, of course) is high in sodium.

          • David

            I agree and I think more options SHOULD be offered, but in the end it still has to be the individuals choice or you lose the whole ‘free society’ thing.

    • bigmamat

      The high incidence of stomach cancer in Japan and Korea is not from salt intake. It’s from the bacteria H. Pylori. which is the same bacteria responsible for most cases of stomach ulcers.

      http://www.livestrong.com/article/361804-japanese-diet-stomach-cancer/

      • Doon

        Actually H. Pylori is responsible for only a minority of stomach cancers.

        • bigmamat

          So does that give any credence to the claim that salt does?

          • Doon

            Do you really love salt or something and this is making you afraid. This is pretty common knowledge.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2682234/

            http://www.worldactiononsalt.com/salthealth/factsheets/stomach/

            http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/types/stomach/riskfactors/stomach-cancer-risk-factors

            Stomach cancer risk is 68% higher in people with high salt intake compared with those with low salt intake

            http://www.nhs.uk/news/2012/07July/Pages/Salty-food-link-to-stomach-cancers.aspx

            I could go on.

            Korean foods is high in salt. It’s a salty cuisines. The fermentation process often uses many salts too. Korean food is made up of lots of pickled and fermented foods.

            Korea has the highest stomach cancer rate in the world. 10-20x then comparable counties (except Japan, they get high too). It’s not some magic leap to see the connection.

          • bigmamat

            You completely dismissed the H. Pylori evidence even though they test for it in Japan and monitor high risk subjects. I’m not saying a diet high in sodium is good for you but until today this is the first I’ve heard of it being linked to stomach cancer. Gall and kidney stones yes, stomach cancer no….Every single one of your linked articles suggests there is some correlation between the H. Pylori bacteria and salt intake…just as I suspected the salt isn’t the actual cause of the cancer the bacteria is the cause and the high to moderate salt intake is a mitigating factor….next time you want to dispute someone’s claim try not to undermine your own.

          • Doon

            LOL! Why are you so angry?
            I suggest you do your homeworks first. Don’t let your ego get in the way. Do some research then when you are ready come back for the bebates.
            Also HP without salt is a small probelm.
            Now dont be arrogant boy.

          • x1sfg

            While we’re at it, let’s limit fried foods, tobacco, and alcohol consumption too. Two drinks, three cigarettes, 1/4 lb fried food max. And twinkees.

            Let’s limit basketball too, since it has a high ankle injury rate.

            Forget how it is a gross violation on civil liberties, how are you going to enforce this travesty of a law? It’s going to be a drain on taxes, while making those in power richer. Sorry, people arent going to follow the law nor vote in a politician who supports this unenforceable BS.

    • Jjangg1

      I think the reasons for high rates of stomach cancer in korea are:

      -high sodium intake from DwaenJjang/Kimchi
      -too much smoking
      -burnt meat and charcoal grills
      -and most of all Genetics!

  • David

    70 products with reduced salt are available? not 70% of items, only 70 items in ALL of Korea? Hey I like personal responsibility and I like making my own choices but of the tens thousands of food items available in Korea if you want to reduce your salt intake (usually a good thing for most older people considering among other things blood pressure) you really still don’t seem to have much of a choice. Also the article said 18 restaurants have reduced salt options on 80 items. That means each of these few restaurants, on average, has choices for reduced salt on 4.4 items. Of the thousands of restaurants in Korea. I really do not understand why the writer of this article sounds so upbeat. Sounds like a total failure for the FDA in Korea who has been working on this for years. Yes, it is a start (and good for them for even starting), but a start should be built upon not trumpeted like a success.

    • commander

      It’s a difference of perspectives.As long as sodium levels are not specified for food items in law, it is impossible for the FDA to enforce a policy of mandatory sodium reduction.

      The author of the article appears to think of a fledgling move to voluntarily reduce salt in food (though, as you said, it’s drop in the bucket) as auspicious.

      If it transpires that reduced sodium will not impact on sales of products, more food companies and restaurants will take part in sodium reduction campaign.

      I think that’s why the article sounds optimistic about the latest development.

      • David

        I know Asians in general like lots of salt in their food (although usually in a different form not shaking it on, I know my wife and all my friends do). So this is going to be a tough row to hoe. They will have to change the thinking first.

        I know many at my Korean school (including educated teachers) will still tell you Kimchi is a miracle food that can cure all sorts of things including cancer (which seems to fly right in the face of Koreans who die of cancer).

        • Chucky3176

          Eating Kimchi won’t get you cancer, it’s the overconsumption of salt in the kimchi which is harmful. Modest consumptions of kimchi is not harmful and it will aid in building up body’s immunity, so they’re not entirely wrong. But with everything else, you want to consume everything in modest quantity.

          • The MSG doesn’t help either.

          • Chucky3176

            MSG is not an essential requirement for Kimchi. You can usually tell if there’s MSG in it. Most Koreans when they make them at home, don’t put them in. But I do understand some stores that sell them, may do so to enhance the flavouring.

          • David

            Ya, you won’t catch Gramma putting MSG in.

          • David

            No, they say it will CURE cancer. I know it will not give or cure cancer in reality, I am just talking about their belief.

  • Guest

    this reminds me of the latest episode of the human condition

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7rmNowUM1A

  • noiha

    if you reduce sodium content, not only less taste, you also have less preservative, less product life, hence the higher price. but yeah, i agree sometimes those “healthy food” seems a bit too expensive… like, making it expensive makes us feel it’s healthier.. -_-

    • Higher quality food is more expensive.

      Lower quality food is cheaper.

      I don’t know why that should be so strange. Would you expect a higher quality cell phone to be cheaper than a lower quality cell phone?

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