Experts Confused by Food Preferences in Different Countries

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The Salt Institute is critical of Canadian Medical Association Journal article on differences in salt content of foods from different countries.

I can only assume that the research budget must not have included travel to any local ethnic restaurants to enquire why their menu items and recipes are not all identical,” said Morton Satin, Vice President of Science and Research for the Salt Institute.

A recent article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that the salt content of menu items at fast food chain restaurants varies from country to country with British hamburgers, for example, having a slightly lower salt content than American hamburgers. The nearly dozen scientists who conducted the research concluded that there should be no reason why food recipes should change from one country to another.

“I can only assume that the research budget must not have included travel to any local ethnic restaurants to enquire why their menu items and recipes are not all identical,” said Morton Satin, Vice President of Science and Research for the Salt Institute. “It should be obvious that people in different countries prefer different kinds of foods and have different tastes, which even large chain restaurants have to accommodate to succeed,” he added.

The perplexing conclusion of the article (The variability of reported salt levels in fast foods across six countries: opportunities for salt reduction. CMAJ April 16, 2012) was surprising given the high level of peer reviewed clinical research normally reserved for the pages of The Journal. “It is clear that the entire report was an agenda driven attack on what the authors consider high salt consumption. The authors specifically call for governments to mandate lower salt content in food, regardless of consumer preferences,” said Satin.

According to Satin, “The fact is that the majority of research conducted over the past few years and published in accredited peer reviewed journals specifically cautions against lowering salt consumption for individuals. The detrimental health effects of doing so include increased morbidity and mortality from Type I and Type II diabetes, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and heart failure.”

"The authors of the report also failed to note that in many countries, such as those in the Mediterranean region as well as Asia, salt consumption is higher than in the United States and so is life expectancy and general health," added Satin.

About the Salt Institute: Based in Alexandria, VA, the Salt Institute is a trade association promoting responsible uses of salt, particularly for roadway safety, nutrition and water quality. Visit http://www.saltinstitute.org of call 703-549-4648. For more on salt and health, see salthealth.org.

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Lori Roman
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