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Salt mania unnecessary: health chief

March 17, 2011

Secretary for Food & Health Dr York Chow has refuted claims iodised salt will protect people from radiation, stressing it is unnecessary to buy large quantities of the compound.


Dr Chow today told reporters it is unlikely the salt supply will be affected by the nuclear crisis in Japan because the contamination of the sea water around Japan will be much diluted or washed away after some time.


“There is a certain belief salt might contain iodide and this might protect humans from radiation. But this is totally unfounded, both scientifically and medically. The reason why iodide tablets are required is for people who work very closely to the source of radiation. In case they might be exposed to radiation, they need to take the tablets six hours before the exposure and within six hours after the exposure. This is only for people who are very close to very high levels of radiation. So it is not applicable to any general public at all.”                 


He said information gathered from Japan and some other governments and scientific institutions indicates the hazard to Hong Kong directly from radiation is extremely low at the moment, adding the chance of contaminated products reaching Hong Kong is low.


“Even in the case of slightly contaminated products being ingested by our citizens, the chance of getting any health effect is actually quite low, particularly if it is only a one-off ingestion. The most important thing is to detect (contamination) early and inform the public. At the same time, if we feel any particular product or any food is actually of high risk, we will have to exercise our discretion to ban those imports.”

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