Countries ranked by how much salt is in their salami

Countries ranked by how much salt is in their salami

Beef
Just 100 grams of processed meat and fish products accounts for more than a third of the recommended daily salt intake, a study has found.

Just 100 grams of processed meat and fish products accounts for more than a third of the recommended daily salt intake, a study has found.

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Processed meat sold in Australia has less salt than many other countries.

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Processed meat sold in Australia has less salt than many other countries.

But eating just 100 grams of homegrown meat and fish products would account for more than a third of the recommended daily salt intake.

An international study found China has ranked the worst, in terms of salt content in processed food, than many other countries.

The US came in second for salt content of processed meat/fish products.

Health experts say a high salt diet is a major cause of high blood pressure and the associated risks of cardiovascular and kidney diseases, and death.

Australia was included in a five-country study to discover how much salt was being sold in processed meat and processed fish products.

The UK, US, China and South Africa were also included in the study by the online medical research journal BMJ Open.

The World Health Organisation recommends a maximum salt intake of 2000 mg/day.

Experts say the average global salt intake in 2010 was around twice that.

The WHO has set a target of a 30 per cent global reduction in salt intake by 2025, and to gauge progress against this, focused on the salt content of processed meat and fish products in the five countries.

Products were sourced from major supermarket chains in the five countries between 2012 to 2018 to scan the food nutrition labels.

Processed meat products were classified as meat alternatives; bacon; canned meat; frozen meat; meat burgers; salami and cured meats; sausages and hot dogs; sliced meat; dried meat; pate and meat spreads; kebabs; 'other' meat products; raw flavoured meats; whole hams and similar products; roast chicken; and raw unflavoured meats.

Processed fish products were categorised as canned; chilled; frozen; and 'other'.

A total of 33,955 processed meat and fish product labels were scanned.

China came first, while the UK was last in the overall rankings.

MORE READING: China's beef ban hinges on drug find.

But the study found salt levels within and between the countries varied widely, depending on the product and brand.

The five nations included in this study each have their own strategies to reduce dietary salt intake.

According to a food alert system adopted by the UK, salt level was defined as low if under 120 mg/100g; medium if between 120 and 599 mg/100g; and high if above 600 mg/100 g.

Overall, China had the highest salt level (1050 mg/100 g) for all products, ranking it the country with the saltiest products for both meat (1066 mg/100 g) and fish products (942 mg/100 g), followed by the USA, South Africa, Australia and the UK (432 mg/100 g).

But the average salt content of meat products was lower in Australia (580 mg/100 g) than it was in the UK (590 mg/100 g).

The study found significant variations among all the subcategories and between countries.

For example, the salt content of roast chicken in China was 4.5 times that of the same product in the UK (893 mg/100 g vs 197 mg/100 g); chilled fish in China was 4.5 times saltier than that of the USA (1744 mg/100 g vs 389 mg/100 g).

And the salt content of pâté and meat spreads in China was around four times that of Australia (1916 mg/100 g vs 480 mg/100 g).

Yet the salt content of bacon, frozen meat, salami and cured meats, dried meat and frozen fish in China was the lowest of all the five countries.

A substantial proportion of processed meat and fish products fell into the red and amber traffic light categories, with the highest proportion of green light products found in the UK, accounting for just over 12.5pc of all meat and fish products.

But the overall sodium content of meat and fish products in each country was high, with only 10pc of the products in the UK and USA, and no more than 5pc in China and South Africa, falling into the green light category.

The UK had the highest percentage of products achieving its own 2017 salt reduction targets, with the exception of bacon products: just 14pc reached this target. This compares with 28pc in the USA, 50pc in Australia, 75pc in South Africa, and 85pc in China.

Based on these findings, if eating 100 g meat and fish products daily, average sodium intake would account for just over 47pc of the WHO recommended daily maximum in China and the USA, 37pc in South Africa, nearly 35pc in Australia, and 27pc in the UK.

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