War Declared On Salt!

Are you tired of the high fructose corn syrup battles? Today the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, released a report that said Americans on average eat enough salt every second to kill a humpback whale kraken. I have not actually read the report, but it probably said something like that. It also said that public education campaigns have failed to reduce sodium intake, and voluntary self-regulation by the food industry hasn’t been effective.

One of the experts who authored the report explained to the Washington Post that while salt is “essential,” we ingest at least 50% more than the maximum level daily, and that this chronic overdosing leads to things like hypertension and other diseases.

According to CNN, the FDA is in the talking-to-industry-players stage of a salt-reduction program, but participation would be voluntary. The Washington Post, however, says that the FDA actually has a program set to launch later this year that will phase in legal limits for salt gradually over the next 10 years, but that it won’t discuss it because it hasn’t been formally announced.

The Salt Institute is framing the issue as a reverse health crisis in waiting, saying that restricting sodium intake would turn Americans into guinea pigs and amount to “the largest clinical trial ever carried out” without anyone’s knowledge or consent.

As for how this would affect the food industry, the Washington Post points out that there are technical challenges that have to be solved to reduce sodium in many products, because it’s not just used for taste but also as a preservative and in some cases to add “mouth feel” (in their example, sodium makes soup feel thicker).

“U.S. limits urged for salt in processed food” [CNN]
“Lawmakers urge FDA to move swiftly to limit amount of salt in foods” [Washington Post]