‘Salty To A Fault’
Survey of 318 Foods Shows that Many are Too High in Salt
[Embargoed until 12:01 a.m. Thursday September 24, 2009.]
OTTAWA (September 23, 2009)-The vast majority of restaurant foods and many, perhaps most, packaged foods sold in grocery stores contain unhealthy—and unnecessarily high—levels of sodium, according to a new report by a nonprofit health organization. Health Canada concedes that it is nearly impossible, even for someone following Canada’s Food Guide, to consume a healthy amount of sodium if consuming processed foods. Experts estimate that excess sodium intake causes the premature death of some 15,000 Canadians annually and contributes at least $2 billion to public healthcare spending.
However, Salty to a Fault, a new report published today by the health advocacy group, the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, reveals wide variations in sodium levels—often greater than two-fold—among groups of otherwise comparable foods. “Our scan makes it clear that many companies can and do make foods with much less added salt than their competitors, despite claims they must use lots to make dough rise, preserve food, and give foods acceptable taste and texture,” said Bill Jeffery, CSPI’s National Coordinator. “The wide variation in sodium levels in most of the 49 categories of foods featured in the CSPI report helps explain how so many Canadians consume double or triple the 1,500 mg of sodium accepted by most experts as an appropriate adult target for consumption,” Jeffery added.
Ranges of sodium levels in foods featured in the report include:
· 40 mg in a 70-gram serving of french fries at Swiss Chalet (which leaves the salting to the customer) to 555 mg in Harvey’s fries;
· 120 mg in 125 mL of President’s Choice Blue Menu Primavera Pasta Sauce to 600 mg in President’s Choice 7-Vegetable Sauce;
· 335 mg in a 140 g portion of East Side Mario’s Cheese & Tomato Sauce Pizza to 805 mg in Swiss Chalet’s; and
· 115 mg in a 30 g bowl of Nature’s Path Heritage O’s breakfast cereal compared to 270 mg in President’s Choice Toasted Oat Os.
For nearly a decade, the British government has been pressing food companies to use less salt in food processing and, earlier this year, its Food Standards Agency updated salt-reduction targets for 85 types of food. Health Canada’s Sodium Working Group will meet in Ottawa on September 28–29 to begin setting the details of a national strategy to reduce sodium intake.
For more information, call: Bill Jeffery, National Coordinator of CSPI at 613-244-7337.
For background on sodium and health, see: http://www.cspinet.org/canada/foodsodium.html
An embargoed copy of the report is attached: The embargo will be lifted at 12:01 a.m. Thursday September 24, 2009.
Note to editors: Bill Jeffery is one of 26 members of Health Canada’s Sodium Working Group, which includes federal and provincial government officials, university researchers, health advocates and representatives of several affected food industries. He was also a member of the Federal Trans Fat Task Force which, in June 2006, recommended the federal government issue regulations to limit the use of trans-fat-laden partially hydrogenated oils to prevent the 2,600 deaths caused by them annually. In June of 2007, former Minister of Health Tony Clement warned the food industry to ditch trans or face regulations by June 2009. Current Minister Aglukkaq has failed to make good on that threat.
This statement does not necessarily reflect the views of members of the Sodium Working Group.
CSPI is an independent health advocacy organization with offices in Washington and Ottawa.
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Bill Jeffery, LLB, National Coordinator
Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)
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