The health/cost paradox - Our daily bread
The Department of Health has called for a reduction in the amount of salt in bread as a means to address high blood pressure. This is part of the recent preventative health push of the Department.
South Africans consume an average of 9.8g of salt per day - twice the recommended level - and bread is a high salt product. There are apparently 200mg of salt per slice of bread - so to reach the recommended level of 3g per day, you’d have to eat 15 slices of bread a day. (source)
While this might seem like a hell of a lot of bread to eat per day, in our AFSUN research we found many households surviving on just bread and sweet tea. Bread is staple for many urban households.
The problem is that in order to make these changes, there will be costs. You can’t simply remove the salt. The salt is not only a flavorant, but also impacts the texture, production method and shelf-life of the product. Both Tiger Brands and Pioneer foods have argued that this will add significant cost to the end product (link). Of course, the bread companies have been less than transparent with their pricing in the past (Link)
With food prices set to escalate (link) and many households (up to 80% in low income areas of Cape Town) already struggling with food security, what is the likely impact? How do households below the breadline cope with potentially increased bread prices? How do we balance long term health and short term food security?
University of Cape Town