(HealthDay News) — There are considerable differences in the sodium content of processed meat and fish products across countries and food subcategories, according to a study published online in BMJ Open.

Yuzhu Song, from Hebei Medical University in Shijiazhuang, China, and colleagues compared sodium content in processed meat and fish products among 5 countries. Sodium content on product labels of 26,500 prepackaged products (19,601 meat and 6899 fish products) was obtained in supermarkets in China, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, and the United States using a mobile application from 2012 to 2018.

The researchers found that processed meat and fish products combined had the highest sodium level in China (median: 1050 mg/100 g), followed by the United States, South Africa, and Australia, with the United Kingdom recording the lowest levels (432 mg/100 g). For processed meat and fish products separately, similar 2-fold to 3-fold variations of sodium content were seen between the highest and lowest countries. Across the 5 countries, large sodium content variations were found in specific food subcategories, as well as across different food subcategories within each country.

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“There are large differences in sodium levels of packaged foods among the 5 countries with different sodium reduction policies,” the authors write. “This implies that the target-based strategy is effective in lowering sodium levels in foods.”

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