Universal Salt Iodization
Iodine deficiency is one of the most prevalent causes of developmental delay and brain damage in regions where little iodine occurs naturally in the diet. Preventing iodine deficiency can be achieved by fortifying salt with iodine, a process known as Universal Salt Iodization (USI).
NCP's involvement in USI dates back to the early 1990s, in conducting some of the first national surveys of salt producers in the Philippines.
NCP conducted studies comparing the stability of iodine in different types of salt and packaging conditions, paving the way for Universal Salt Iodization in the Philippines being legislated in 1995 through the Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide.
Supplying iodized salt to the provinces
The National Nutrition Surveys show that at the national level, the supply of iodized salt has improved dramatically since the 1990s. However, when disaggregated at the regional and provincial level, serious gaps remain.
In 1998, the median urinary iodine excretion level (UIE) of school children in the Philippines was 71 ug/L, well below the recommended level of 100 to 199 ug/L.
National surveys conducted (in 2003, 2008, and 2013) after Universal Salt Iodization was legislated in the Philippines (in 1995), showed the median UIE of school children remained well above 100 ug/L.
However, the 8th National Nutrition Survey conducted in 2013/14, showed that one administrative region and 13 provinces still had inadequate iodine nutrition.
Although there has been a recommended UIE level for pregnant and lactating women since 2007, the iodine status of pregnant and lactating women and infants in the Philippines is not well known.
Universal Salt Iodization Research and Programs
Survey of Food Processors Utilizing Salt and Salt Repackers
Commissioned by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition in 2012, this study aims to provide the National Salt Iodization Program with information regarding the use of iodized salt by food processors and food repackers.
We know the proportion of households with adequately iodized salt is below the target of 90% of households. While national levels (median UIE levels) are within the range considered adequate, regional and provincial estimates are more variable.
The final report is expected to be published in 2015.
Survey of Salt Importers, Producers and Traders in the Philippines: an Evaluation of Internal and External Quality Assurance and Control
This study, conducted in 2010, aimed to evaluate the existing quality assurance and control systems and practices of the salt industry.
The 2008 National Nutrition Survey showed wide variation in the iodine content of iodized salt available in the market place.
The study documented the state of the salt industry's quality assurance and quality control systems; determining if the processes designed to ensure the quality of iodine in salt are effective and being implemented by the iodized salt producers, importers and traders.
The study was commissioned by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).
Stability of iodine in iodized fresh and aged salt exposed to stimulated market conditions
The government's early guidelines for selling iodized salt required that iodized salt be sold only through repackaging in polyethylene bags or in bottles, and sealed prior to selling.
However, the majority of consumers buy salt from the markets by "takal" (or volume) where the salt is displayed in an open heap and sold using a measuring container and placed in plastic bags upon purchase.
The study aimed to provide evidence on the stability of iodine added to locally available aged and freshly harvest salt (iodized at 100ppm), when exposed to the market place.
The study showed that iodized salt was able to retain iodine above the recommended levels despite exposure to an open heap environment and use of ordinary packaging material.
Salt samples were analyzed for iodine content using the iodometric titration method (volumetric chemical analysis).
This study was commissioned by UNICEF and Impact Foundation of the Philippines, and published in the Food and Nutrition Bulletin in 2007.