We’re lovin’ the salt
South Africa’s McDonald’s franchises sell some of the saltiest Big Mac burgers in the world, according to a report by World Action on Salt and Health (Wash).
The report by the British non governmental organisation lists local Big Macs as having the fourthhighest salt content, at 2.47 grams.
The saltiest Mac burgers are sold in Malaysia (2.7 grams). The Macs with the least salt (2.1 grams) are sold in Ireland, Britain and Turkey.
The report shows that the salt content in recipes at McDonald’s, KFC, Kelloggs and Nestlé differ dramatically between countries.
Salt was reduced in Big Macs in some countries between 2006 and 2014, but in South Africa the Big Mac salt content has increased from two grams to 2.47 grams since 2006. The World Health Organisation recommends a maximum of between four grams and 6 grams of salt per day.
Professor Graham MacGregor, Wash chair and professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary College, University of London, said: “Reducing salt is the most cost-effective measure that we know to reduce the number of people suffering and dying from strokes, heart attacks and heart failure.”
He said the latest study shows that many global food manufacturers do not do enough to lower salt content and instead maintain a chaotic approach.
He said salt should be reduced in all their products “to the lowest level and further” if we are to tackle the associated health problems. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has been trying to force food companies to reduce the amount of salt in bread, soups, snacks and other processed foods.
But he’s met fierce resistance both from industry and ordinary people. “Some [companies] are very uncomfortable. They’re fighting and saying, ‘Why can’t the government provide dialysis and kidney transplant?’ It’s some form of mental retardation to think like that, really. We say, ‘If you do this, you are going to keep your normal kidneys.’ You say, ‘No, I don’t want to keep them. You must provide me with new kidneys.’ It’s very difficult to get a kidney transplant, yet that’s what people seem to be fighting for and we want to reverse them from that.”