Building a healthy eating habit from a young age is important in terms of healthy growth and prevention of chronic diseases down the road. However, the Nutrient Testing of School Lunches in Primary Schools in Hong Kong 2013 conducted by the Department of Health revealed that the sodium content in over 90% of the examined lunches exceeded the recommended intake for a meal. Excessive intake of sodium could lead to hypertension, which is a major cause of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. On the other hand, according to the World Health Organization, decreasing dietary intake of salt to 5g per day in adults would reduce the risk of stroke by 23% and that of cardiovascular diseases by 17%.

In 2015, the 'Working Group on Promoting Healthy School Lunch' (the Working Group), with representatives from primary school principal associations, school lunch suppliers and other stakeholders, was established under the Campaign. Upon deliberation, the Working Group identified reduction of sodium content in school lunch as the priority area of work.

Under the recommendation of the Working Group, six school lunch suppliers (Asia Pacific Catering Corporation Limited - Luncheon Star, Danny Catering Service Limited, Delicious Chef King Catering Limited, Hearty Meal (A member of Maxim's Group), LSG Catering China Limited and Sailing Boat Luncheon Production Limited) participated in the Pilot Project on Sodium Reduction in School Lunch Boxes (Pilot Project) from September to December 2016 and cut down the sodium levels of 16 school lunch options by 3% to 35% with the use of less seasoning or modification of recipes.

Based on the encouraging results from the Pilot Project, the DH launched the "Salt Reduction Scheme for School Lunches" in the 2017/18 school year. A total of 13 lunch suppliers participated in the Scheme which will supply sodium-reduced lunches to around 440 primary schools in Hong Kong starting September 2017. As of mid-September 2017, participating lunch suppliers have committed to provide around 280 sodium-reduced lunch options to schools in the 2017/18 school year, with the average level of sodium reduction being 9%. They have also pledged to provide sodium-reduced lunch options in 2% to 90% of all the lunch options available for schools each month. The DH will review the recipes of such school lunches for assessing the sodium level and amount of sodium reduction.

Schools are encouraged to help monitor school lunches with reference to the "Nutritional Guidelines on Lunch for Students", while parents can help by using less sodium-containing seasonings in their diet at home, thus creating all-round efforts in reducing students' sodium intake and building a solid foundation for their long-term health.

The DH will regularly update the Database of lunch suppliers participating in the Salt Reduction Scheme for School Lunches.

Lunch suppliers are encouraged to join the Scheme by completing the application form (Chinese only).

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