Salt levels vary significantly in fast foods sold by six major companies in various developed countries.
This suggests that technical issues, often cited as barriers to salt reduction initiatives, are not the issue, according to a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
A team of researchers from Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States looked at data on the salt content of 2124 food items in seven product categories from six companies.
“We saw marked variability in the reported salt content of products provided by major transnational fast food companies,” writes Dr. Norman Campbell, University of Calgary, with coauthors.
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The companies were Burger King (known as Hungry Jack’s in Australia), Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Subway.
They looked at savory breakfast items, burgers, chicken products, pizza, salads, sandwiches and french fries.
Too much dietary salt has been linked to higher blood pressure and other adverse health effects. Estimates show that reductions in salt intake could result in a significant reduction in deaths.
Learn more, from The New England Journal of Medicine, in Hold the Salt
Salt levels in similar foods varied widely between countries, with fast food in Canada and the US containing much higher levels of sodium than in the UK and France.
For example, in Canada, McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets contained two and a half times the amount of sodium — 600 mg sodium (1.5 g salt) per 100 g serving compared to 240 mg sodium (0.6 g salt) per 100 g in UK servings.
“Decreasing salt in fast foods would appear to be technically feasible and is likely to produce important gains in population health.” they conclude.
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Canadian Medical Association Journal April 16, 2012, “The variability of reported salt levels in fast foods across six countries: opportunities for salt reduction” Elizabeth Dunford MPH, Jacqueline Webster PhD, Mark Woodward PhD and colleagues