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Not just a pinch of salt

18 August 2015 - 02:11 By Katharine Child

If you knew how much salt was in your child's Happy Meal you might choose to buy only the toy. Today the World Action Group on Salt releases its report on the salt content in children's fast foods in 37 countries, including South Africa.It found that eight out of 10 meals had more than one gram of salt, which is the maximum believed to be healthy for a four-to-six-year-old.A South African Kids' KFC meal - a burger and chips - was one of 10 saltiest meals on a list of more than 160.According to the World Action Group on Salt, the KFC treat contains almost 3g of salt. This is the entire recommended daily amount for a child of six."With one in 10 children suffering from high blood pressure, we simply cannot afford to allow such high levels of salt in popular children's meals," Christelle Crickmore, manager of the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA said.Wits professor Karen Hofman, part of the Priceless group, whose work was used by the government when it changed the dietary salt regulations, said: "South Africa is No1 in the world for high blood pressure and for many people this is related to salt consumption."South African KFC children's meals had a higher salt content than McDonald's, which averaged about 1.9g per meal.But McDonald's Chicken McNuggets in South Africa were the third-saltiest Chicken McNuggets among 29 countries.The action group used nutritional information provided by food chains' websites or menus to calculate how much salt was in the food.The worst country was Costa Rica, where the KFC Popcorn Nuggets children's meal had an estimated 5.34g of salt, more than the recommended adult daily allowance. The same meal in Britain had only 0.9g of salt.Clare Farrand, the action group's spokesman, said: "The fact that these fast-food chains are able to produce less salty children's meals in some countries means they can do the same in all countries, and should immediately."Sechaba Motsieloa, corporate affairs director for McDonald's SA, said the company "works closely with the Food Standards Agency to review the amount of salt in our food to ensure that we are in line with government regulations."Gail Sham, corporate communications manager for KFC, said: "The company had started to reduce the salt content in [some meals] and we are committed to further reducing salt levels ... across our menu over the next three years in line with our global nutrition strategy."..

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