Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fast Food Purposely Saltier in U.S. to Boost Sales

The purpose of industrial food corporations is to make profits from hawking edible products. Period. 

Health and public good are irrelevant concepts to this singular goal... unless hefty sales will result, of course.

In U.S. fast food, the lure to reeling in rich profits is salt. Loads and loads of salt. As much as it takes to ensure big bonuses for fast food executives. Sort of like using special lures to bait fish... 

Pizzas, burgers, fries, breakfast concoctions, even salads served in the United States are intentionally loaded with more salt than that sold by the same fast food companies in Great Britain, Australia, Canada and often France and New Zealand, per the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

This week, the CMAJ released results of their salt comparisons in 2,124 fast food samples:
  • From six companies: Burger King, Domino's Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Subway
  • In seven product categories: burgers, chicken products, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, french fries
  • In six countries: United States, Great Britain, Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand
And guess what? Most U.S. fast food is laced with more salt than the same burgers, pizzas, and the like served elsewhere. Because we apparently buy more if their addictive offerings are saltier. 

Take, for instance, Pizza Hut's Hawaiian pizza (which I adore!). This gooey delectable boasts nearly twice as much salt per U.S. serving as that in Great Britain, and quite a bit more than Hawaiian pizza slices in New Zealand and Canada.  Per the CMAJ report:
"There was considerable variability between countries in the salt content of products in the same categories. For example, the mean salt content per 100 grams for savory breakfast items was significantly lower in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, than in the US, and chicken products in the UK were significantly lower in salt than in the US. In addition, we found that individual items marketed as the same product had very different levels of salt in different countries (Table 2). For example, McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets had two and one-half times more salt in the US than in the UK."
The bottom-line message is this: the U.S. has the saltiest fast food in the world. But exactly how bad for our health are super-size portions of salt?
"... recent estimates suggest that the numbers of deaths averted by moderate reductions in population salt consumption would be at least as many as those achieved by plausible reductions in population smoking rates. Yes, you read that correctly…SMOKING!" reports
Americans consume mass quantities of salt-laden fast food each year. And it's killing us.  
But don't look for fast food corporations to give a damn. They will make no changes until forced to by law. Or until profits and bonuses are richer when their edibles are less salty. 

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