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‘3 Miền Bouillon’ to prevent iodine deficiency

Update: November, 28/2017 - 11:06

In the alarming situation of iodine insufficiency in Vietnam, UNIBEN Company actively collaborated with experts from the Nutrition Centre of HCM City to research and develop a new food product, iodised bouillon, which is nowadays highly recognised by nutritional practitioners. In order to facilitate healthy eating habits among the population, UNIBEN also distributed a significant amount of the iodised bouillon to millions of Vietnamese families.

Vital Need of Iodine

According to physician nutrition specialist (PNS), Do Thi Ngoc Diep, Director of the Nutrition Centre of HCM City, iodine plays a key role in the proper functioning of the thyroid gland and the lack of it causes several deceases related to physical and mental retardation, commonly known as Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD). Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs), the World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD) also point out that iodine is essential for all ages, especially for pregnant women and children. The recommended daily iodine intake is 110–120 mcg/day for children, 150 mcg/day for most adults, and 220–250 mcg/day for pregnant women.

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Iodine

 

Daily intake, mcg

Age

Male

Female

Pregnancy

Lactation

Birth to 6 months

110*

110*

 

 

7–12 months

130*

130*

 

 

1–3 years

90

90

 

 

4–8 years

90

90

 

 

9–13 years

120

120

 

 

14–18 years

150

150

 

 

19+ years

150

150

220

290


Despite the high importance of iodine, it cannot be produced by the body and has to be part of our daily food consumption.

Iodine Deficiency in Vietnam

Less than a decade after stopping the successful National IDD Control Programme 1993-2005 and downgrading IDD control from a national health priority to routine activities in the public health sector, many nutritional experts nowadays do warn of a comeback of iodine shortage in Vietnam. In particular, the element supply in local plants and crops is diminishing due to severe floods that washed it out of the ground. A WHO survey in 2015 states, “Only 23/90 communes having minimum iodised salt coverage of 90%; 77.7% of pregnant women have an insufficient iodine intake, out of which 44.6% of them are from a moderate to severe status of deficiency.”


Mrs. Diep Do (L), Director of the Nutrition Centre of HCM City, introduced “3 Mien Iodised Bouillon” in a conference to promote a healthy lifestyle (HCMC, Oct 26th 2016) —Photo Courtesy of UNIBEN

Meanwhile, some national programmes such as the Government Decree No.09/2016/ND-CP to boost iodine for health emphasised that salty spices, as well as some other food products, must be enriched with iodine. Nevertheless, many food manufacturers disagree with the Decree due to a number of potential problems such as, incremental costs and disorder of stable production processes, as well as the change of regular taste, colour, and expiration date of food after adding highly oxidisable iodine. In this situation, UNIBEN is the pioneer Vietnamese enterprise, which made a considerable investment into R&D for creating iodised food products.

Iodised Bouillon as the Science-Enterprise Collaboration Result

One of the reasons for iodine deficiency is that Vietnamese people tend to use a lot of salted spices other than table salt to prepare foods such as seasoning granules, which are not iodised. Accordingly, UNIBEN together with nutrition scientists from the HCM City Nutrition Centre has come up with a simple but revolutionary idea: adding iodine to daily seasonings through bouillon. Months of analysing physical and chemical elements, carrying out several tests on iodine supplementation in UNIBEN factory seems to be working with the development of a formula and a manufacturing process for the new UNIBEN product line called “3 Miền Iodised Bouillon”.


Mr. Dung Vu (R), CEO of UNIBEN Company and Mrs. Diep Do (L), Director of Nutrition Centre of HCM City, introducing “3 Mien Iodised Bouillon” to Mr. Friday Nwaigwe, UNICEF Vietnam's Head of Child Survival and Development in August 2017. — Photo Courtesy of UNIBEN

A cross-sectional experiment identified that median iodine intake from “3 Miền Iodised Bouillon” is increasing from 264 ± 126 mcg/day, much higher than the non-iodine supplementation, which is 95.6 ± 50.1 mcg/day. In addition, “3 Miền Iodised Bouillon” will impart an aromatic "gamey" and savoury flavour to both full and meatless dishes. The “3 Miền Iodised Bouillon” is recommended by doctors and nutritionists as a simple and economical solution to ensure that Vietnamese families have sufficient intake of iodine.

UNIBEN and its Corporate Social Responsibility

UNIBEN spent a significant amount of resources to promote healthy eating habits and greater awareness on the new way of iodine fortification among the population. The organisation supported the Nutrition Centre of HCMC to distribute millions of handbooks that educate people on the importance of iodine intake and how to do it efficiently. Most importantly, UNIBEN has given away a thousand tonnes of iodised bouillons to millions of Vietnamese families through the UNIBEN nationwide distribution system and its consumer base.


With the iodised “3 Miền Bouillon,” UNIBEN was recognised nationally with the Nutrition Food Award at the Nutrition Conference held in August 2017. — Photo Courtesy of UNIBEN

In particular, since March 2016, the organisation has distributed more than 9 million 200g/400g packs of “3 Miền Iodised Bouillon” at a total cost of more than VNĐ 120 billion (around US$5.4 million). These free packs were included in “3 Mien” instant noodle boxes. The outcome of this action was tremendous. After one year, an estimated 6 to 9 million households became familiar with “iodised bouillon” and regularly used it in cooking. This protects more than 30 million Vietnamese against the risk of mental retardation caused by iodine deficiency.

Speaking about the company’s strategy, Dr. Dung Vu, CEO of UNIBEN Company, explains, “UNIBEN always considers community health as its main corporate social responsibility. We spend a lot of R&D efforts to ensure that our foods are both tasty and safe. Moreover, we aim to create as much new healthy and affordable food products for every Vietnamese family. The community-oriented programme “3 Miền Iodised Bouillon” with its unique product in the Vietnamese market is just the beginning of the journey in this direction.”

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