Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 104, Issue 1, pp e2–e8 | Cite as

Sodium Levels in Canadian Fast-food and Sit-down Restaurants

  • Mary J. Scourboutakos
  • Mary R. L’Abbé
Quantitative Research


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the sodium levels in Canadian restaurant and fast-food chain menu items.

METHODS: Nutrition information was collected from the websites of major sit-down (n=20) and fast-food (n=65) restaurants across Canada in 2010 and a database was constructed. Four thousand and forty-four meal items, baked goods, side dishes and children’s items were analyzed. Sodium levels were compared to the recommended adequate intake level (AI), tolerable upper intake level (UL) and the US National Sodium Reduction Initiative (NSRI) targets.

RESULTS: On average, individual sit-down restaurant menu items contained 1455 mg sodium/serving (or 97% of the AI level of 1500 mg/day). Forty percent of all sit-down restaurant items exceeded the AI for sodium and more than 22% of sit-down restaurant stir fry entrées, sandwiches/wraps, ribs, and pasta entrées with meat/seafood exceeded the daily UL for sodium (2300 mg). Fast-food restaurant meal items contained, on average, 1011 mg sodium (68% of the daily AI), while side dishes (from sit-down and fast-food restaurants) contained 736 mg (49%). Children’s meal items contained, on average, 790 mg/serving (66% of the sodium AI for children of 1200 mg/day); a small number of children’s items exceeded the children’s daily UL. On average, 52% of establishments exceeded the 2012 NSRI density targets and 69% exceeded the 2014 targets.

CONCLUSION: The sodium content in Canadian restaurant foods is alarmingly high. A population-wide sodium reduction strategy needs to address the high levels of sodium in restaurant foods.

Key words

Sodium restaurants fast foods Canada 


OBJECTIF: Évaluer les niveaux de sodium au menu des restaurants et des chaînes de restaurants rapides au Canada.

MÉTHODE: Nous avons recueilli en 2010 des données nutritionnelles sur les sites Web de restaurants assis (n=20) et de restaurants rapides (n=65) très fréquentés au Canada et construit une base de données. Quatre mille quarante-quatre mets, produits de boulangerie, plats d’accompagnement et mets pour enfants ont été analysés. Nous avons comparé les niveaux de sodium à l’apport suffisant (AS) recommandé, à l’apport maximal tolérable (AMT) et aux cibles de l’initiative nationale de réduction du sodium des États-Unis (NSRI).

RÉSULTATS: En moyenne, les articles au menu des restaurants assis contenaient 1 455 mg de sodium/portion (soit 97 % de l’AS de 1 500 mg/jour). Quarante p. cent des articles au menu des restaurants assis dépassaient l’AS en sodium, et plus de 22 % des plats sautés, des sandwiches ou roulés, des plats de côtes et des plats de pâtes avec viande ou poisson et fruits de mer servis dans les restaurants assis dépassaient l’AMT quotidien en sodium (2 300 mg). Les mets des restaurants rapides contenaient en moyenne 1 011 mg de sodium (68 % de l’AS quotidien), tandis que les plats d’accompagnement (des restaurants assis et rapides) en contenaient 736 mg (49 %). Les mets pour enfants contenaient en moyenne 790 mg/portion (66 % de l’AS en sodium de 1 200 mg/jour recommandé pour les enfants); un petit nombre de mets pour enfants dépassait l’AMT quotidien pour les enfants. En moyenne, 52 % des établissements dépassaient les cibles de densité de la NSRI pour 2012, et 69 % dépassaient les cibles pour 2014.

CONCLUSION: La teneur en sodium des aliments dans les restaurants canadiens est extrêmement élevée. Il faudrait une stratégie de réduction du sodium à l’échelle de la population pour s’attaquer aux niveaux élevés de sodium dans les aliments des restaurants.

Mots clés

sodium restaurants aliments de restauration rapide Canada 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of Toronto, FitzGerald Building, Room 315, 150 College StreetTorontoCanada

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