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Foods Saltier in U.S., Canada continued...

According to nutritional information provided by the companies:

  • McDonald's Chicken McNuggets in the U.S. and Canada contain almost three times as much salt per serving as those in the United Kingdom (600 milligrams in a 3.5-ounce serving in the U.K., and 1,500 milligrams and 1,700 milligrams in the U.S. and Canada, respectively).
  • A Subway club sandwich in the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand contained about twice as much sodium (2,700 milligrams to 2,900 milligrams per serving) as a club sandwich in France (1,300 milligrams per serving).
  • Salads sold by the fast food chains in France and New Zealand had less than half the salt per serving (300 milligrams) as salads in Canada (800 milligrams). Salad dressings are a major contributor to salt in salads.

Fast Food Industry Responds

The lower average salt content in the foods sold in the U.K. suggests that a national effort to reduce salt consumption in that country may be working, the researchers concluded.

In the U.S., the New York City health department is leading efforts to reduce the salt content of processed and restaurant foods by setting target levels.

The U.K. and New York City efforts are voluntary, meaning that they do not require food manufacturers and restaurants to meet their target levels.

In a statement to WebMD, a fast food industry spokesman acknowledged that there is a "growing consensus among health care professionals that some individuals need to reduce their [salt] intake."

National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) executive director Rob Green noted that chain restaurants have voluntarily worked to redesign their offerings to salt, but he added that regulations to require these reductions would be counterproductive.

"These voluntary efforts should recognize that consumers have expectations about flavor and taste, and that changes in taste profiles must occur gradually in order to avoid consumer rejection," he said.

The study appears in the latest issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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