Chain Restaurants Decrease Salt Slightly but Progress is Slow & Uneven, Report Finds

Posted on July 5, 2014 by

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A review of 136 meals from 17 top restaurant chains finds that the companies have reduced sodium on average by six percent between 2009 and 2013, or just 1.5 percent per year. The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest says that the progress has been slow and inconsistent. The biggest reductions in sodium were posted by Subway, Burger King, and McDonald’s, but KFC and Jack in the Box actually increased sodium by 12.4 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively, in the sample of meals reviewed.

Despite the progress, 79 percent of the 81 adult meals in the study still contained more than 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium. A majority of Americans, including people 51 and older, people with high blood pressure, and African-Americans, should try to limit themselves to 1,500 mg of sodium per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At higher levels, sodium promotes high blood pressure, stroke, heart attacks, kidney disease, and other health problems, making it the single most harmful ingredient in the food supply, according to CSPI. The average sodium in 55 kids’ meals dropped by just 2.6 percent.

At table-service chains such as Red Lobster, Chili’s, and Olive Garden, it’s easy to find meals in the ballpark of 5,000 mg of sodium—more than most people should consume over the course of three days. CSPI says that these alarming levels are one reason why the Food and Drug Administration should set reasonable limits on the amounts of sodium that can be used in various categories of food.

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Posted in: Family safety