Before you eat that chicken nugget, you might want to think first. Because it may just have sky high salt content, especially if it’s produced in the U.S.
A new study has been released that set out to examine the salt levels for products offered at fast food chains, including Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Subway.
The objective was formed after several fast food companies made commitments to reduce the salt levels in their food, but later cited ‘technical issues’ as the reason they couldn’t follow through with their promise and make any substantial reductions.
The study – conducted by lead author Elizabeth Dunford, the global database manager for the Australian branch of World Action on Salt and Health – compared the salt content of various food items from fast food restaurants in six countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, France, Canada and New Zealand. Results showed that the U.S. reigned supreme when it came to overly-salty foods. Canada ranked not far after, and France and the U.K. came out on top with the lowest overall rankings.
One speculation as to why the U.K. was low on the scale is that they’ve set voluntary limits on the salt in their fast food.
When comparing McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, stateside nuggets had more than two times the amount of salt as nuggets in the U.K. They also found that pizza had the most salt per serving, and chicken contained the most salt per gram. Salads ranked relatively low in comparison to the other products.
In reaction to the damning results, McDonald’s has reportedly responded saying they have already reduced the salt content of their chicken sold in the U.S. by close to 10 percent, and that they plan to reduce the salt in all of their menu items by an average of 15 percent by 2015.
Although reasons for these variations between companies and countries are not clear, the authors were still able to determine that the differences in salt content of similar products suggested that ‘technical reasons’ could not be the primary reason fast food companies couldn’t reduce the salt in their foods. And furthermore, that fast food companies are capable of substantially reducing the salt in their products, which would translate to great benefits for the population’s overall health.