Salt in Fast-Foods Higher in Canada
Researches examined fast-food menu information in six countries, including Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, and found that the same item had different salt levels in different countries. For example, french fries sold at major fast food chains in Canada contain more than double the amount of salt of those sold at U.S. locations. And McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets contained 0.6 grams of salt per 100 grams in the U.K., while in Canada the McNuggets contained 1.5 grams for the same 100-gram size.
Furthermore, researchers compared the salt content of 2,124 items from six fast-food establishments: Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Subway. In particular, they examined the salt content in breakfast items, burgers, chicken products, pizza, salads, sandwiches and French fries.
The results revealed that the chains in Canada sold the saltiest sandwiches, salads and fries, while breakfast items, chicken products and pizza sold in the United States were the saltiest. Burgers in New Zealand contained more salt than any other country, according to the 2010 study, which was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and released on Monday, April 16.
Canada “came either in the top or the second from the top in every single food category. That’s one of the real startling things,” Calgary-based Dr. Norm Campbell of the Canadian Stroke Network, and one of the researchers, told the media.
According to Campbell and the study’s research team, “Decreasing salt in fast foods would appear to be technically feasible and is likely to produce important gains in population health — the mean salt levels of fast foods are high, and these foods are eaten often. Governments setting and enforcing salt targets for industry would provide a level playing field, and no company could gain a commercial advantage by using high levels of salt.”
Campbell continued by saying the study is not an attack on the fast-food industry, as sodium levels would be high in an expensive restaurant and also in packaged foods, but the “big issue is the governments, and a structured voluntary approach” needs to be taken, in which the governments work with the industry to set lower salt targets, he adds.
The study is based on data from 2010. Since this time, some fast-food chains have been working to reduce sodium content, and a McDonald’s spokesperson in the U.S. said the following to media: “We have already reduced sodium by 10 percent in the majority of our national chicken menu offerings in the U.S., most recently Chicken McNuggets, a Happy Meal favourite. Sodium reductions will continue across the menu and by 2015, we will reduce sodium an average of 15 percent across our national menu of food choices.”
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