Fast foods full of salt

Researchers in the UK have found that some popular fast food meals are "shockingly high" in the levels of salt they contain.

A group of specialists concerned with salt and its effects on health have formed an action group called Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) and are working to reach a consensus with the food industry and Government over the harmful effects of a high salt diet.

They aim to reduce the amount of salt in processed foods as well as the salt added to cooking, and at the table.

CASH which is supported by 22 expert scientific members, has conducted a study on highly popular fast food chains and found that the worse culprit when it came to added salt was a Pizza Hut children's chicken "wrap factory" which along with a soft drink contained 4.3g of salt per portion.

This equates to 142% of a four to six-year-old's daily maximum of salt.

Second place went to KFC kids' mini fillet burger meal which contained 3.5g per portion.

Cash chairman Professor Graham MacGregor says it is over four years since the maximum daily limits for salt were established for adults and children and yet the survey shows that the salt levels in some of these meals are "staggeringly high".

According to the study the recommended levels of salt were 6g for adults; 5g per day for children aged seven to 10; 3g per day for four to six-year-olds and 2g per day for one to three-year-olds.

This latest report has found levels of salt which exceed recommended limits for children many times over, in some cases four times the recommended limit for younger children.

The saltiest meals were found to be the Pizza Hut Pizza Plus; four people sharing this meal would be consuming 12.3g of salt each; KFC Variety Meal adds up to 6.3g of salt, while Burger King's Large Chicken BLT Baguette Meal Deal contains 5.1g of salt.

All the restaurants surveyed state that they have reduced their salt content considerably over recent years and say they do offer meals with much lower salt levels if customers are concerned.

Another problem highlighted by the survey is access to nutrition information and though all the companies surveyed have this displayed on their websites Pizza Hut and KFC did not have any available at the point of sale.

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