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Food Safety Focus (183rd Issue, October 2021) – Food Incident Highlight

Are Local School Children, Pregnant and Breast-feeding Women Having Enough Iodine?

The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health had recently released the report on the Iodine Survey on school children, pregnant and breast-feeding women. These populations are particularly vulnerable to iodine deficiency disorders. Iodine is an essential nutrient for normal thyroid function and is required for growth and development. If iodine is deficient during the critical period from the second trimester of pregnancy to the third year after birth, the brain and central nervous system of the baby will have irreversible damage from cretinism.

Pregnant and breast-feeding women are recommended to seek advice from medical professionals and consume a variety of iodine-rich foods. Some iodine-rich foods are seaweeds (e.g. kelp soup, seaweed snack), seafood (e.g. marine fish, prawns, mussels), eggs, as well as milk and milk products (e.g. cheese, yogurt). If using iodised salt, limit the total salt intake to 5 g or 1 teaspoon a day, including the salt in sauces, seasonings and other foods consumed. On the other hand, although uncommon, excessive iodine intake may lead to thyroid disorders.