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Consumer protection in Hong Kong

Three days’ intake of salt found in one sample of Asian soup noodles as Hong Kong Consumer Council warns of health risks

Study conducted by Consumer Council and Centre for Food Safety found 76 of 100 samples contained sodium levels that exceeded WHO’s recommended daily intake  

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 February, 2018, 1:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 February, 2018, 11:09pm

Lovers of Asian soup noodles are being warned of the health risks potentially lurking inside their favourite snack as a study showed more than 75 per cent of selected samples contained high sodium posing risks of high blood pressure and heart diseases.

The study, jointly conducted by the Consumer Council and the Centre for Food Safety on 10 types of Asian soup noodles, revealed 76 of the 100 samples contained levels of sodium that exceeded the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended daily sodium intake of 2,000 milligrams for an average adult. The average sodium content of the samples was 350mg per 100g.

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They included noodles in tom yum soup, spicy rice noodles with pork belly and cuttlefish balls, barbecue pork ramen in pork bone soup, dan dan noodles with spicy and minced pork, stewed beef noodles and seafood laksa.

The sample with the highest sodium was a type of spicy rice noodles containing 6,000mg per bowl – treble the WHO limit. 

“Eating one bowl of these rice noodles will consume three days worth of sodium in one sitting,” said Dr Henry Ng, the centre’s principal medical officer. 

Another sample of spicy rice noodles contained 5,800mg per bowl, followed by a tom yum soup noodle sample with 5,400mg.

Ng said on the basis of three meals a day, one bowl of all the samples would exceed the sodium limit of 667mg per meal. 

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“Even the lowest sodium sample, a wonton noodle with 1,200mg, exceeds the intake limit by 80 per cent,” he warned.

“The high sodium content in most the samples in the test is putting consumer health in jeopardy with increased risks of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases,” Ng said.

In another study, the council also inspected the nutrition labels of 10 samples of cup noodles on sodium content and energy values. They found the average sodium content per serving size was 1,900mg – 95 per cent of WHO recommended limit of daily sodium intake.

Among the three containing the most sodium were two beef noodles samples with 2,244mg and 2,577mg sodium respectively and a Japanese-style bowl noodle with 3,150 mg sodium.

Ng called on consumers to reduce or simply skip drinking the noodle soup to cut down their sodium intake. 

“The real culprit behind the high sodium content in Asian noodles is the soup base,” he said.

Ng said eating just the noodles and toppings, would cause the sodium intake to drop from between 18 and 68 per cent – bringing down the number of sample with excessive sodium to only 20 samples. 

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The biggest sodium reduction, in a tom yum noodle, came down from 3,000mg to 970mg.

However, Ng added all nine spicy rice noodles, even without the soup base, still exceeded the daily intake limit.

He called on the operators of Hong Kong’s restaurants and eateries to change their recipes to cut down salt levels and use more natural and fresh ingredients.