Suruchi Pradhan is a postgraduate research student at the International Institute of Nutritional Sciences and Applied Food Safety Studies, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, PR1 2HE, UK.
Iodine is one of the essential minerals required for normal health and wellbeing. Initially it was assumed that iodine deficiency existed only in developing countries and in areas with soils deficient in iodine and so iodination of salt and water was encouraged in developing countries. However, contrary to the belief that UK was iodine sufficient, recent research has revealed that there is widespread iodine insufficiency in Britain and other European countries (Rayman et al., 2008, Combat and Lean., 2014). Iodine deficiency during pregnancy can have adverse postnatal consequences (Khazan et al., 2013, Rayman et al, 2008, Haddow et al., 1999). This inevitable role of iodine in human nutrition has made it important to explore iodine as a nutrient at global level. In addition to the problem of iodine deficiency in the UK, there is simultaneous concern regarding consumption of excess salt as a part of daily diet.
The primary aim of phase I of the study is to measure iodine content of the different categories of cheese (as defined by the British Cheese Board), as well as milk and salt available in UK supermarkets and to map this information, in relationship to the country of origin of the product. In addition to this, the relationship between iodine content and the legislation for iodine fortification in the country of origin for each cheese will be analysed. Moreover this study will also explore the knowledge attitude and practices (KAP) of general consumers and cheese product manufacturers towards the use of iodised salt in food products. The second phase is aimed to undertake in-depth analysis of consumer and industry views on iodine fortification, and highlight the impact of use of iodised salt on the sensory properties of cheese and overall acceptability of the product.
A mapping exercise will be done to find out the different types of cheese widely available in different UK supermarkets, sorting them according to categories as established by British Cheese Board (BCB), ensuring that the samples will be representative of different categories of cheese and belonging to different country of origin. These selected varieties of cheese will then be analysed for their iodine content in the laboratory at UCLan using a fully quantitative method based on the original method developed by Zimmermann et al.,(2005), using Sandell-Kolthoff reaction. In addition, milk and salt samples will also be analysed. The results obtained from laboratory analysis will be discussed in combination with the legal regulations relating to iodisation of salt in the individual countries. Two different questionnaires will be designed for general consumers and manufacturers respectively and in the phase 1 of the study, a pilot of these two questionnaires will be conducted. In the second part of the study, small portion of cheese will be manufactured using iodised salt instead of normal table salt in collaboration with one of the local cheese manufacturers in Preston. To understand the impact on the iodine content of final product, the cheese samples with and without use of iodised salt will be analysed using wet laboratory validated method developed in phase 1 of the study. Sensory evaluation of the cheese samples manufactured using iodised salt will be carried out for understanding its acceptability.
Firstly the present study will highlight the relationship between iodine content of products from the perspective of voluntary or mandatory iodisation of food ingredients and processed foods in the individual countries. Moreover, there is currently no published research on the knowledge, attitudes and practice of manufacturers and consumers on the use of iodised salt in cooking and food products. This research will provide some novel data that will be useful to inform future public health policy. Finally the present study will make an innovative addition towards the impact of substituting non fortified salt with iodine fortified salt in the production of a cheese, both in terms of the practical aspects of the manufacturing process and in terms of the sensory quality and iodine content of the product.