Salt remains hidden killer in fast foods

Though fast foods are becoming less salty, many items including pizzas and burgers still contain very high levels of salt, prompting calls for targets to achieve further reductions.

Researchers from the University of Sydney and the George Institute for Global Health studied salt levels between 2009 and 2012 on the menus of six large fast food chains: Pizza Hut, Hungry Jack's, KFC, McDonald's, Subway and Domino's Pizza.

They found that while the average sodium content of menu items decreased at a rate of between 2 to 3 per cent a year, many products nonetheless contained an adult's entire recommended daily salt intake in a single serve.

Senior author of the study Elizabeth Dunford said the small reduction in salt levels in fast foods was encouraging but ''could easily be undone by the trend towards larger portion sizes''.

She said the average Australian consumed nine grams of salt each day, more than double the recommended daily limit of four grams of salt (or 1600 milligrams of sodium).

Authors of the paper, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, said that in many cases the sodium content of very similar products varied widely, ''suggesting that there is no technical reason preventing further sodium reduction'' in many items.

''The commercial imperative of the food industry to deliver shareholder value appears likely to override health concerns until regulatory checks are put in place,'' the authors said.

The story Salt remains hidden killer in fast foods first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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