Great news: FDA to regulate salt in processed foods

posted at 11:36 am on April 20, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

How does government intervention get sold to citizens?  First, publicize a “crisis” and warn that dire consequences will follow without some immediate changes.  Push people into changing their choices voluntarily with social pressure and warnings of impending disaster.  At some point, declare those efforts insufficient and propose government intervention as the only way to save people from themselves.

DDT? Global warming?  Alar?  No … salt:

The Food and Drug Administration is planning an unprecedented effort to gradually reduce the salt consumed each day by Americans, saying that less sodium in everything from soup to nuts would prevent thousands of deaths from hypertension and heart disease. The initiative, to be launched this year, would eventually lead to the first legal limits on the amount of salt allowed in food products.

The government intends to work with the food industry and health experts to reduce sodium gradually over a period of years to adjust the American palate to a less salty diet, according to FDA sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the initiative had not been formally announced.

Officials have not determined the salt limits. In a complicated undertaking, the FDA would analyze the salt in spaghetti sauces, breads and thousands of other products that make up the $600 billion food and beverage market, sources said. Working with food manufacturers, the government would set limits for salt in these categories, designed to gradually ratchet down sodium consumption. The changes would be calibrated so that consumers barely notice the modification.

The FDA has never interjected itself into the recipes of prepared foods.  Instead, they have enforced full disclosure on labels, allowing consumers to select the healthiest options for themselves if they wish.  Why the change?  The FDA says we can’t choose for ourselves:

Until now, the government has pushed the food industry to voluntarily reduce salt and tried to educate consumers about the dangers of excessive sodium. But in a study to be released Wednesday, an expert panel convened by the Institute of Medicine concludes that those measures have failed. The panel will recommend that the government take action, according to sources familiar with the findings.

Of course they will!  But there’s just one little problem.  According to the latest research, sodium intake isn’t really a health problem for normal adults. An Einstein University study in 2008 showed no connection between cardiovascular disease risk and higher-sodium diets:

High-salt diets may not increase the risk of death, contrary to long-held medical beliefs, according to investigators from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

They reached their conclusion after examining dietary intake among a nationally representative sample of adults in the U.S. The Einstein researchers actually observed a significantly increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) associated with lower sodium diets.

The researchers analyzed data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), which was conducted by the federal government among a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. These data were then compared against death records that had been collected by the government through the year 2000. The sample of approximately 8,700 represented American adults who were over 30 years of age at the time of the baseline survey (1988-1994) and were not on a special low-salt diet.

After adjusting for known CVD risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes and blood pressure, the one-fourth of the sample who reported consuming the lowest amount of sodium were found to be 80% more likely to die from CVD compared to the one-fourth of the sample consuming the highest level of sodium. The risk for death from any cause appeared 24% greater for those consuming lower salt, but this latter difference was not quite large enough to dismiss the role of chance.

“Our findings suggest that for the general adult population, higher sodium is very unlikely to be independently associated with higher risk of death from CVD or all other causes of death,” says Dr. Hillel W. Cohen, associate professor of epidemiology and population health at Einstein.

But why let science spoil all of the nanny-state fun?  Don’t let facts get in the way of a crisis model for government intervention.  After all, it’s for your own good, which the elites in the federal bureaucracy obviously understand better than you do.

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Is this jobs saved or created?

ORconservative on April 20, 2010 at 11:39 AM

from NY to DC

blatantblue on April 20, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Damn Rethuglikkkans want to run our lives.

Monica on April 20, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Ed, that study was obviously racist.

mwdiver on April 20, 2010 at 11:41 AM

According to the latest research, sodium intake isn’t really a health problem for normal adults. An Einstein University study in 2008 showed no connection between cardiovascular disease risk and higher-sodium diets:

This is getting o be the MO of the nanny state democrats…Find a scenario where there is no scientific evidence and then regulate it. It is insanity.

Nanny state. Ah the intellectual left, rage against the NaCl! Is any salt safe? Can I still have my Mrs. Dash?

Sodium Chloride?

Hell No!

Sodium Chloride?

Hell No!

Inanemergencydial on April 20, 2010 at 11:41 AM

Next up: Internet access keeps people from getting enough exercise, as does watching Fox News.

Kafir on April 20, 2010 at 11:41 AM

I wonder what the Progressive Conservatives think of this…

MeatHeadinCA on April 20, 2010 at 11:41 AM

I guess I will just have to take my salt shaker with me when I go out to eat.
L

letget on April 20, 2010 at 11:42 AM

I guess they’ll have to change the title of that new Angelina Jolie flick coming out this summer.

Doughboy on April 20, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Every day, nanny gets a new idea!!!!

mobydutch on April 20, 2010 at 11:43 AM

One simple question, what\’s to stop the consumer from adding salt to the bland product? Are they going to outlaw mortons?I see people putting ice melt on their french fries in the future.

loudmouth883 on April 20, 2010 at 11:43 AM

I wonder what the Progressive Conservatives think of this…

MeatHeadinCA on April 20, 2010 at 11:41 AM

You mean there’s more than one?

hillbillyjim on April 20, 2010 at 11:44 AM

The government will not listen to us….just stock up on salt and light bulbs.

mobydutch on April 20, 2010 at 11:45 AM

The lower salt content could shorten the shelf life of canned foods. We buy by the case and try to keep a couple of months ahead. We had thought about storing a years worth so if you had planned on doing this as well, better get it now. BTW have they turned the water back on for the farmers in Calif yet?

Kissmygrits on April 20, 2010 at 11:45 AM

The Libs will say the survey Ed quoted was funded by “Big Salt” and therefore not valid.

mwdiver on April 20, 2010 at 11:45 AM

DDT.

The road to hell…

WitchDoctor on April 20, 2010 at 11:46 AM

This is the same principle as health care. We change our country for the worse for 12 million people, and we perform these changes in the name of doing it “for the people” while ignoring “We the People”.

An ignored FDA issue is the regulating of Rx drugs. Getting a drug approved by the FDA is a nasty business.

How long before the FDA begins their campaign for regulating supplements like fish oil, Vitamin E, etc? Suzanne Somers is right, they need to stay out of this industry.

freeus on April 20, 2010 at 11:46 AM

How about this? If foods are salty, eat less of them.

RBMN on April 20, 2010 at 11:46 AM

I wonder if this can open the door to people suing restaurants or food manufacturers.

darwin on April 20, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Pick up a copy of the American Journal of Public Health sometime. Flip through its pages and try to see whether individual autonomy and self-determination are valued anywhere in the calculations or narratives. They might as well be talking about strategies for reducing widget breakage during shipping.

DrSteve on April 20, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Anchovies hit hardest …

darwin on April 20, 2010 at 11:47 AM

The great thing about being a liberal is you only have to believe one thing.

Problem. Solution = more government control over your life.

It’s perfectly mindless.

lorien1973 on April 20, 2010 at 11:47 AM

How about this? If foods are salty, eat less of them.

RBMN on April 20, 2010 at 11:46 AM
No, we need a Salt Czar.

mobydutch on April 20, 2010 at 11:47 AM

letget and I think alike; maybe EPA will require licensing and registration of salt shakers.

“They’ll pry my salt shaker out of my cold, dead fingers!”

michaelo on April 20, 2010 at 11:47 AM

You mean there’s more than one?

hillbillyjim on April 20, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Watch some of the posters here… unless someone has more than one username…

MeatHeadinCA on April 20, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Here is a great example of where a useful Govt. function, full disclosure labels, checking to make sure there are actually peanuts in peanut butter, and that Chinese baby formula is safe, turns into intrusiveness.
The FDA should prevent mislabeling of chocolate covered frogs when the consumer has no idea what they are eating, not tell people ‘You can’t have it; chocolate covered frogs have no nutritional value”.

LincolntheHun on April 20, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Margaritaville hardest hit.

Christien on April 20, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Go pound salt, FDA.

forest on April 20, 2010 at 11:49 AM

Next thing we know, THEY’ll be banning KFC in low-income neighborhoods…

MeatHeadinCA on April 20, 2010 at 11:49 AM

I guess I will just have to take my salt shaker with me when I go out to eat.
L

letget on April 20, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Don’t worry; soon enough you won’t be able to buy salt to refill that thing, either.

Midas on April 20, 2010 at 11:49 AM

Next up: Internet access keeps people from getting enough exercise, as does watching Fox News.

Kafir on April 20, 2010 at 11:41 AM

LOL! I bet it could happen!
I have been telling my students when the health care stuff was getting discussed that the govt through the USDA &/or FDA would soon choose to regulate the sodium in Americans’ diets.
Now I get to tell them I was right today!
OMG can it get any worse?

Badger40 on April 20, 2010 at 11:50 AM

Creeping nanny statism…

WisCon on April 20, 2010 at 11:50 AM

How many new government employees will have to be hired to enforce this?

ctmom on April 20, 2010 at 11:50 AM

I understand the incentive to do this.
I recently developed high blood pressure and had to drastically cut my sodium intake.

It is amazing how much sodium is added to food.
I cannot eat at restaurants period!
KFC should be called Kentucky Fried Sodium with over 3000mg in a meal with a crispy chicken breast and mashed potatoes. That is more than 3 times the recommended daily allowance.

Never-the-less, I believe in freedom. The government is over reaching here.

Just where in the constitution did we give the government the authority to micromanage recipes?

Smack them down!

The Rock on April 20, 2010 at 11:50 AM

Why does Uncle Sugar hate country ham?

hillbillyjim on April 20, 2010 at 11:50 AM

You want to know what is BAD for the citizens of this country? Annual deficits that are 10% of GDP.

WashJeff on April 20, 2010 at 11:50 AM

I’m surprised this just wasn’t written into Obamacare. Or at least a tax on salt.

sammypants on April 20, 2010 at 11:51 AM

Democrats hate electrolytes.

darwin on April 20, 2010 at 11:51 AM

Working with food manufacturers, the government would set limits for salt in these categories, designed to gradually ratchet down sodium consumption.

How much salt will be allowed in salt? Will they need to add filler to get the percent down?

zmdavid on April 20, 2010 at 11:52 AM

You sodium deniers are worse than Hitler!!1!!1!111!

/

Master Shake on April 20, 2010 at 11:52 AM

I guess I will just have to take my salt shaker with me when I go out to eat.
L

letget on April 20, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Yup. Now people will add salt and be eating more salt than they were before.

Thanks, Barry.

Bobbertsan on April 20, 2010 at 11:52 AM

If we let them, the statists will control every minute area of our lives… in the name of “goodness” and “helping” and puppy dogs, butterflies and unicorns… salt is just the beginning, how about fat, then sugar, carbs maybe, then caffeine, next fiber, ooh, how about protein, yes… the government will save us from having to make any personal choices… if we let them…

WordsMatter on April 20, 2010 at 11:52 AM

Don’t worry; soon enough you won’t be able to buy salt to refill that thing, either.

Midas on April 20, 2010 at 11:49 AM

Looks like I’ll be ‘making’ my own NaCl.
You can do it.
All you need is a little chemistry.

Badger40 on April 20, 2010 at 11:52 AM

UNEMPLOYMENT SOLVED: Government to hire 7.2 million salt inspectors!

Film at eleven.

hillbillyjim on April 20, 2010 at 11:53 AM

More
Stupid
Government

Christien on April 20, 2010 at 11:53 AM

After adjusting for known CVD risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes and blood pressure, the one-fourth of the sample who reported consuming the lowest amount of sodium were found to be 80% more likely to die from CVD compared to the one-fourth of the sample consuming the highest level of sodium.

So we are to believe that consuming copious amounts of salt is a life extender, a mini fountain of youth? Tomatoes and blueberries – out. Salt -in. Hard to believe.

MB4 on April 20, 2010 at 11:53 AM

When they enact the gov. health care, there will be a blood test required to find the salt level in each patient.

mobydutch on April 20, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Next up, arrest warrants for carrying an unlicensed salt shaker in your pocket.

Skandia Recluse on April 20, 2010 at 11:55 AM

Looks like I’ll be ‘making’ my own NaCl.
You can do it.
All you need is a little chemistry.

Badger40 on April 20, 2010 at 11:52 AM

I see the Salt Enforcement Agency breaking down your door in the near future.

zmdavid on April 20, 2010 at 11:55 AM

Next up, arrest warrants for carrying an unlicensed salt shaker in your pocket.

Skandia Recluse on April 20, 2010 at 11:55 AM
I am sure we can smuggle salt from Mexico.

mobydutch on April 20, 2010 at 11:56 AM

And all my libs friends online nod approvingly, Well, it’ll change McDonald’s fries but this is probably for the best…

Time to re-read Liberal Fascism.

LastRick on April 20, 2010 at 11:56 AM

Another Obama shift that will target the people that actually voted for them. Ramen noodles will never be the same. College kids will most likely starve to death.

ButterflyDragon on April 20, 2010 at 11:57 AM

I’m already stocking up on light bulbs; now I can add salt to the list.

They should encourage salt use. If salt truly is as evil as they say it is, then they should want people to have strokes and such. They will die sooner and it will remove them from needing health care.

Beaglemom on April 20, 2010 at 11:57 AM

30 million African children under the age of five have died of malaria because of the liberal lies told about DDT. As once was said, what better way to keep humans in cities than to ban DDT.

tarpon on April 20, 2010 at 11:58 AM

Just more of those gun toting, Bible believing, salt shaker carrying folks on the loose.

mobydutch on April 20, 2010 at 11:58 AM

Thanks goodness Nana is watching out for us. I once saw a kid stab himself with a fork. We should ban forks!

faol on April 20, 2010 at 11:59 AM

I wonder if they will outlaw the sodium chloride IV’s? That is generally the first IV that is put in when an ambulance or ER room get a patient.
L

letget on April 20, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Anchovies hit hardest …

darwin on April 20, 2010 at 11:47 AM

Not to mention pickles.

Del Dolemonte on April 20, 2010 at 11:59 AM

I wonder if they will outlaw the sodium chloride IV’s? That is generally the first IV that is put in when an ambulance or ER room get a patient.
L

letget on April 20, 2010 at 11:59 AM

And saline solution for contact lenses? Can’t have too much salt coating our eyeballs, you know!

Del Dolemonte on April 20, 2010 at 12:01 PM

Can we buy salt offset credits?

petefrt on April 20, 2010 at 12:03 PM

Can’t wait until they change the requirements for milk and we all get stuck with Non-Fat only.

portlandon on April 20, 2010 at 12:03 PM

I thought that the ObamaCare model called for the shorter life spans in order to work, not longer ones.

Maybe it is no salt for ages 15-55. Then it is a all salt and popcorn cooked in cocnut oil diet.

mechkiller_k on April 20, 2010 at 12:03 PM

When you eat a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese and wake up the next morning with man tits, you know there’s too much salt in that food item.

Adjust accordingly.

rickyricardo on April 20, 2010 at 12:03 PM

That’s it…I’m going SALT!

ihasurnominashun on April 20, 2010 at 12:03 PM

When you wake up in morning with man boobs after consuming a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese; that’s a sign of high salt content.

What’s so hard to understand?

rickyricardo on April 20, 2010 at 12:05 PM

I would take claims that salt is a health food with a grain of salt.

MB4 on April 20, 2010 at 12:05 PM

How are they going to stop me from sprinkling salt on these new tasteless products?

Daggett on April 20, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Looks like I’ll be ‘making’ my own NaCl.
You can do it.
All you need is a little chemistry.

Badger40 on April 20, 2010 at 11:52 AM

Damn, looks like organic chemistry does have real world applications.
Man! Now I have to tell my prof he was right.

LincolntheHun on April 20, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Here is a great example of where a useful Govt. function, full disclosure labels, checking to make sure there are actually peanuts in peanut butter, and that Chinese baby formula is safe, turns into intrusiveness.
The FDA should prevent mislabeling of chocolate covered frogs when the consumer has no idea what they are eating, not tell people ‘You can’t have it; chocolate covered frogs have no nutritional value”.

LincolntheHun on April 20, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Here you are saying that the Federal Government has powers to do inspections under commerce clause of the constitution Article 1 sec 8 and 10, I like you but you are total adding something to Constitution that is not there, this is business of States.

Ed Laskie on April 20, 2010 at 12:07 PM

The science is settled, Ed. I mean, against salt being a threat, but still…

theCork on April 20, 2010 at 12:07 PM

I guess they’ll regulate how often we can go swim in the ocean, too.

Beaglemom on April 20, 2010 at 12:08 PM

The Food and Drug Administration is planning an unprecedented effort to gradually…

Howzabout we drop the nonsense about regulating salt and make it a capital offense to use the world ‘unprecidented’?

turfmann on April 20, 2010 at 12:09 PM

I guess they’ll regulate how often we can go swim in the ocean, too.

Beaglemom on April 20, 2010 at 12:08 PM

Next up, Cap-N-Trade for God. God is only allowed so many credits for things like salt in the ocean, pollution spewing from volcanoes, etc. After He uses them up, he has to pay up in taxes or buy credits from satan.

Daggett on April 20, 2010 at 12:10 PM

How long before you cannot buy salt at the market…

It will be a behind the counter item, register to buy it, and the Healthcare law will likely have some mechanism in it to make sure that the supermarket tracks and regulates what amount you can buy every month/year.

Don’t you just love your government??

PatriotRider on April 20, 2010 at 12:11 PM

I wonder if they will outlaw the sodium chloride IV’s? That is generally the first IV that is put in when an ambulance or ER room get a patient.
L

letget on April 20, 2010 at 11:59 AM

That’s because most patients, in that circumstance, are dehydrated and their electrolytes are low or out of balance.

I just looked at a 1 liter lactated ringer and the sodium chloride content is 600mg.

MB4 on April 20, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Ed Laskie on April 20, 2010 at 12:07 PM

Dude are you still harping on that? Ok again, Article I section 10 middle paragraph last Clause.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

Not saying I like it, just saying it is there.

and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

Kind tough to argue with that, but hey; go for it.

LincolntheHun on April 20, 2010 at 12:12 PM

A black market in salt starts in 3…2…1…

PatriotRider on April 20, 2010 at 12:13 PM

Next up for Michelle My Belle: Bacon Czar

To my surprise, the War on Bacon seems to have begun in 2007, not in the US under Booosh, but in the nanny-state UK.

ornery_independent on April 20, 2010 at 12:14 PM

I really am becoming just plain sick of my government…

PatriotRider on April 20, 2010 at 12:15 PM

First they came for the hummers, next they’ll come for the pie salt.

DrAllecon on April 20, 2010 at 12:16 PM

Then I’ll add salt myself.

The nanny state can pound sand.

MadisonConservative on April 20, 2010 at 12:17 PM

Again, just like global warming is not about warming of the planet, salt intake is not about too much salt. It’s all about control, period.

Susanboo on April 20, 2010 at 12:17 PM

I may even have to change my blog nom de plume. This is not the change I wanted.

NaCly dog on April 20, 2010 at 12:18 PM

Wow. First I the government wants us to give up breast milk cheese, and now salt.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/35778477/ns/today-today_food_and_wine/

mwdiver on April 20, 2010 at 12:20 PM

I love salt. I’m a Taurus…we bulls keep salt licks by the bed.

ornery_independent on April 20, 2010 at 12:21 PM

How are they going to stop me from sprinkling salt on these new tasteless products?

Daggett on April 20, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Just you wait, they’ll get there eventually. They’re gonna ban the whole damn salt shaker, with the salt in it.

Susanboo on April 20, 2010 at 12:23 PM

Damn, looks like organic chemistry does have real world applications.
Man! Now I have to tell my prof he was right.

LincolntheHun on April 20, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Tell your inorganic chemistry prof that he/she was right.

NaOH + HCl = H20 + NaCl. No Carbon (organic chem) offsets needed or desired.

NaCly dog on April 20, 2010 at 12:24 PM

LincolntheHun on April 20, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Tell ya what – you seem pretty adamant about not only the commerce clause (which is Art. 1, Section 8, not 10) and the whole ‘weights and measures’ as an excuse for governmental proctological practices – so it really shouldn’t be too much of a bother for you to cite some supporting SCOTUS decisions that you base those conclusions upon.

And yeah, as predicted last night – gub’mint control of cannibis is honkey dorey ok fine with ya, but by golly, those bastages better keep their cold clammy hands off the salt!

Now, off with you. Go find links.

Wind Rider on April 20, 2010 at 12:26 PM

That’s fine! I’ll add my own!

Dread Pirate Roberts VI on April 20, 2010 at 12:27 PM

I love salt. I’m a Taurus…we bulls keep salt licks by the bed.

My knees just went weak!

Dread Pirate Roberts VI on April 20, 2010 at 12:27 PM

Last I checked sodium was only a problem for those people that have a sodium sensitivity which is about 1/3 of those with hypertension. For the rest of us all you need to do is get enough water to drink and you’ll urinate the extra sodium out.

Dave_d on April 20, 2010 at 12:27 PM

Newsflash Nannystate: I have hypertension so bad it needs medication to keep it in check…and I’m not overweight, I DO exercise-a lot, and I don’t add extra salt to my eats.
My hypertension is totally due to…heredity.
I wonder when Big Gov. is going to start regulating that.

annoyinglittletwerp on April 20, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Ed, salt and sodium has always been known to be “bad”, which is why it’s always been recommended to reduce their intake as much as possible.

Fast (and not so fast) Food restaurants and snack makers nuke their foods with sodium to make the food more full of flavour. That’s clearly unhealthy. Who else other than some government agency would be effective in getting them to cut it out? The market and advocacy groups? I don’t think so. It’s nowhere near as effective as market advocates (of which I am one in general) say. As the best illustration of that, look at the obesity problem in America.

The general goal of reducing government intervention is fine, but in this particular case it’s a good idea.

AlexB on April 20, 2010 at 12:29 PM

annoyinglittletwerp on April 20, 2010 at 12:28 PM

GATTICA!

Wind Rider on April 20, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Why does Uncle Sugar hate country ham?

hillbillyjim on April 20, 2010 at 11:50 AM

That’ll put a huge hole in my food intake..

katy the mean old lady on April 20, 2010 at 12:30 PM

The Food and Drug Administration is planning an unprecedented effort to gradually reduce the salt consumed each day by Americans, saying that less sodium in everything from soup to nuts would prevent thousands of deaths from hypertension and heart disease.

We’re all going to die, so the question is what is the governments preferred method of death for U.S. Citizens?

Virginia Shanahan on April 20, 2010 at 12:31 PM

President Palins first actions on January 21, 2013: Step 1: eliminate the Dept. of Education, Step 2: get rid of the Dept of Energy, Step 3: gut the FDA’s rules and regulations.

WordsMatter on April 20, 2010 at 12:32 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3