Convenience stores to provide healthier meals

The China Post news staff

Leading convenience stores in Taiwan have promised to improve their meal boxes by providing lighter meals with less salt, after the Consumers Foundation said that more than 60 percent of the food contains excess levels of sodium.

The foundation gathered 35 samples of the meals that need to be heated by microwave ovens from various stores of the four leading convenience store chains — 7-Eleven, FamilyMart Hi-Life, and OK. But the sodium content in 16 of the samples exceeded 1,000 milligrams (mg), surpassing the safe level of 800 mg. Some of the meals even contained sodium levels of 2,538 mg, three times the safe level. Foundation officials said the convenient meal boxes have become a major source of foods for wage earners in Taiwan because it takes just a few minutes to reheat them for eating. But the excessive amounts of sodium in the diet will cause physical problems for customers, they said. Excess intake of sodium in the diet can cause fluid retention and high blood pressure, which can then cause cardiovascular diseases and other chronic ailments, said the officials. The major culprits include the deep fried meat, marinated products, and brine cured items in the meals. The foundation suggested that convenience store companies conduct extensive inspections of the diet and salt content in their products so as to improve the ingredients in the products.

Executives at the companies running the convenience stores said consumers can select other products in their stores if they are sensitive to sodium.

But they also promised to ask their food suppliers to carry out a sweeping inspection of the products to identify the source of the problems. They said they will also develop lighter meals, along with suppliers, for the sake of their customers’ health.