Burger King limits kids' sodium24th November 2008
Burger King says it is to limit the amount of sodium in children's meals, amid a widening crackdown on ingredients in foods which are linked to health problems.
The Miami-based corporation is the world's No 2 hamburger chain, and is apparently looking for ways to change the image of its fast foods as local and state lawmakers ban artery-choking trans fats and start mandating calorie counts on restaurant menus.
Sodium in all of the company's kids meals advertised to children younger than 12 will now be limited to 600 milligrams or less.
Some kids' meals on offer in competitors' restaurants already fall within those limits.
In McDonald's, a four-piece Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal, which includes apple dippers, caramel dip, and 1% low-fat white milk, has 390 calories and 570 milligrams of sodium, according to the company website.
Burger King has been criticised for its attitude to health and nutrition in the past.
Experts accuse them of selling some of the fattiest, saltiest foods on the market, and welcomed the move to limit sodium.
Michael Jacobson, executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, co-authored a report that slammed fast-food chains for serving meals loaded with fat and salt.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that most adults consume less than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day, equivalent to about a teaspoon of salt.
Most people in the United States eat more sodium than they need, which can put them at risk for high blood pressure.
Restaurant and processed foods are unusually high in salt, although even low-fat milk contains sodium.
Kids meals at Burger King now offer smaller portions of vitamin-fortified Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, fresh apple fries with caramel dipping sauce and Hershey's 1% low-fat milk.
That makes a total of 340 calories and 505 milligrams of sodium. Further menu options will appear by next summer.
However, a regular kids' meal of hamburger, fries and diet soda from the company's kids' menu delivers a hefty 520 calories and 950 milligrams of sodium.
Sodium limits for children range from 1,000 milligrams for 2-3-year-olds to 1,500 milligrams for 14-18-year-olds.
Doctors in New York city, which has been a leader in legislating healthier restaurant food, called for more moves towards healthier children's meals by fast-food chains.
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