The Malaysian Health Ministry has issued orders to 35 major food and drink manufacturers in the country to reduce salt and sugar content in their products.

The manufacturers, including of infant formula, cereals and carbonated beverages have been advised to cut down trans fats content in their products amid increasing health concerns.

Malaysian Minister of Health Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said that the state would be observing the development and, has also set a deadline for the producers to comply with the guidelines.

"For the time being, we are giving them guidelines and they will be doing it voluntarily," Lai added.

The ministry said that the food and drink producers will also benefit by complying with the new order as their products would be considered healthy foods.

The government considers the move as necessary since several Malaysians suffer from diseases such as diabetes, heart ailments, cancer and hypertension, and campaigns to educate people on being health conscious has not delivered the required result.

Lai said that that the previous H1N1 outbreak in the country has made people to be very careful about their personal hygiene since it was a communicable disease, but they are not worried about consuming less healthy food as they don’t fall ill immediately.

As part of the state’s efforts to spread awareness, it is also planning to launch a new campaign to induce food and drinks producers to provide accurate labels, describing the sugar, salt, fat and nutrition content for the benefit of consumers.

The ministry also ordered all 68 members of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers’ (FMM) food manufacturing group to be part of its Front of Pack Labelling programme, which supports display of calories consumers take with each serving of their products.