"Do as I say, not what I do" appears to be a character trait shared by several salt policy-makers in the Netherlands. According to a study in the Christmas issue published on bmj.com, one hot meal in work canteens of salt policy-makers in the Netherlands contains more salt than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 6 grams.
Salt policy makers who eat in their work canteens consume roughly 15.4 grams of salt per day, say the team led by Dr. Lizzy Brewster at the University of Amsterdam. Compared with the recommended daily allowance this amount of salt equates to a 36% increase in premature death.
It is estimated that consuming too much salt causes 30% of all hypertension cases. In several countries programs have been established in order to encourage individuals to eat less salt.
The team concentrated on policy makers, as they believed they would be highly aware of the risk of excessive salt consumption.
The study analyzed 18 canteens at the Department of Health, the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, the Health Council, university and non-university hospitals in the Netherlands. The team collected a typical hot lunch from the canteens on three random days.
They discovered the average salt content of the meals was approximately 7 grams - over the RDA of 6 grams and was high at all canteens.
In addition, the team questioned employees about the frequency their consumed a hot meal in their work canteen. 63% of employees reported that they ate the hot meal in their staff canteen and another hot meal for dinner at home. According to the team's calculations, the 63% of employees who ate lunch at their canteen and a hot meal at home consumed around 15.4 grams of salt per day - 9 grams over the RDA.
The researchers say:
"If people eat the meals served at the institutions we studied, they run an estimated increase in cardiovascular risk of 32-36% more deaths from stroke and 23-27% more deaths from coronary heart disease compared with people who adhere to the guidelines."
"Our data indicate that even salt policy makers cannot adhere to a low salt diet if they consume the hot lunch at work...These data underline the urgency to remove the exemption of nutrition labeling for food products intended solely for use in restaurants and foodservice operations."
Written by Grace Rattue