‘Meal on one plate’ too salty

IF you have a craving for ‘meal on one plate’ dishes (碟頭飯), you might be better off picking braised tofu sheets with roast pork rice – it is the healthier choice as its salt content is just about right, a consumer watchdog says.

Tests by the Consumer Council (消費者委員會) and the Centre for Food Safety (CFS, 食物安全中心) on 100 samples of 10 different popular dishes sold at fast-food restaurants found 45 of them matched or exceeded the daily upper limit for salt intake.

That limit, set by the World Health Organisation (世界衛生組織), is 2,000 milligrams (about 1 teaspoon). The salt content of braised bean curd sheets with roast pork rice is 690mg.

The samples tested were collected from local and Western restaurants, Asian-style restaurants, local-style cafes and fast-food shops.

The saltiest of the 10 was fried noodles with preserved vegetables and spare ribs, with just one portion containing 4,900mg. Braised e-fu noodles and spaghetti Bolognese were second and third highest in salt content. Rice with barbecued pork and steamed rice with chicken in scrambled egg sauce are healthiest among the tested dishes.

CFS noted sodium is essential for body functions, but excessive intake increases the risk of developing high blood pressure, and untreated high blood pressure can lead to chronic diseases such as heart attack and stroke. The agencies suggest restaurants to reduce sodium content in dishes and use fresher ingredients like herbs and spices.

(This article is published on Junior Standard on 22 March 2017)

Consumer Council press release

Reduce dietary sodium and sugar – Centre for Food Safety