Need to Regulate Fast Food Saltiness in the U.S.

Need to Regulate Fast Food Saltiness in the U.S.

U.S. and Canadian Fast Food is Saltier

There is a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that stated the big difference between the food items served by international food chains in the U.S. and in developed countries in terms of saltiness. The latter appear to have less sodium.

The researchers of this study made an examination of the salt content of over 2,100 food products under seven product categories from varied fast-food restaurants including Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and Subway. Food products taken from the different branches of the food chain in countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United States and United Kingdom were tested.

The seven food product categories were breakfast items, chicken products, burgers, pizza, sandwiches, salads and French fries.

The analysis of results showed that the salt content varied widely even if the same food item is served in different countries. The researchers found higher sodium content in food items served in Canada and the United States than in France and the United Kingdom.

To share some specific numbers, the sodium content of Canada’s McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets is 2.5 times more than the United Kingdom’s. A 3.5-ounce serving of the nuggets in Canada contains 600 mg of sodium or 1.5 g of salt. While in the United Kingdom, the same item and serving size contains 240 mg of sodium or 0.6 g of salt only.

Strict Sodium Content Regulation Needed

Norman Campbell from the University of Calgary said that they have received word that Canadian food companies were doing something to lower the sodium levels in high sodium food products. Unfortunately, it seems that whatever they are doing is not good enough.

The current government should not just let the food industry decide how much salt they put in the food products they sell. The high sodium levels in the food products indicate the need for salt-reduction programs under the supervision of the government to address the ineffectiveness of voluntary efforts of the industry to reduce sodium levels. There must be strict monitoring of targets and timelines to make sure that food companies comply with the regulatory measures.

There is a potential danger in having high levels of salt in the diet. Health problems, such as high blood pressure and kidney disease, have been linked to it.

It’s technically possible to reduce the salt levels of fast foods and this effort will benefit majority of the population who are regular eaters of these fast food items. Reduced salt levels will help promote optimal health for everyone.

Photo credit: Happy Meal via Flickr, CC by-SA 2.0

Categories: Nutrition