High salt meals in staff canteens of salt policy makers: observational study

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Abstract

Objective

To assess the salt content of hot meals served at the institutions of salt policy makers in the Netherlands.

Design

Observational study.

Setting

18 canteens at the Department of Health, the Health Council, the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, university hospitals, and affiliated non-university hospitals.

Intervention

A standard hot meal collected from the institutional staff canteens on three random days.

Main outcome measure

Salt content of the meals measured with an ion selective electrode assay.

Results

The mean salt content of the meals (7.1 g, SE 0.2 g) exceeded the total daily recommended salt intake of 6 g and was high at all locations: 6.9 g (0.4 g) at the Department of Health and National Health Council; 6.0 g (0.9 g) at the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority; 7.4 g (0.5 g) at university hospital staff canteens; and 7.0 g (0.3 g) at non-university hospital staff canteens. With data from a national food consumption survey, the estimated total mean daily salt intake in people who ate these meals was 15.4 g. This translates into a 23-36% increase in premature cardiovascular mortality compared with people who adhere to the recommended levels of salt intake.

Conclusion

If salt policy makers eat at their institutional canteens they might consume too much salt, which could put their health at risk.

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