The Canadian food industry has a huge impact on what consumers eat, but with the cards in their hands, are they helping to reduce sodium? The answer is not enough. Restaurants Canada says that sodium levels in the Canadian food supply industry remain high because that is what consumers want. Most consumers enjoy the taste of salt, but if they realized the impact of consuming high levels of sodium, they might change their eating habits.
Food restaurants put business ahead of the health of Canadians, which should make us question, what are we really consuming? Canadians eat more than double the amount of sodium they need per day. However, most restaurants have little to no menu labeling that could guide Canadians in selecting healthy foods.
About 80% of the sodium Canadians eat is added to our food before we even take the first bite, therefore it is very difficult to reduce salt intake, especially when eating out or buying pre-packed foods. It is clear that most packaged, processed and prepared foods are overloaded with sodium. Most restaurant chains haven’t made any progress in reducing sodium levels in their menu items. A study examining restaurants revealed that more than 20% of menu items in the survey contain more than a day’s worth of sodium. Food manufacturers have reduced the amount of sodium in many products, but much more work needs to be done.
Despite the government’s pledge to reduce salt intake, to date the responsibility to reduce sodium has still been largely left up to the food industry, and clearly they have not been taking enough action. Government’s efforts need to put Canadians’ health first and take a much stronger role to ensure food industries substantively reduce the sodium content of food long term In the meantime, Canadian consumers can try to reduce their own salt intake by eating fresh or fresh frozen unprocessed foods in home cooking over eating out and buying less packaged and processed foods.
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