Now you see it. Soon you won’t. Take a good look at this picture.

Thanks to pressure from Michael Bloomberg, Heinz is changing its recipe for its famous ketchup.

By the time the H. J. Heinz Company is finished remaking its world-famous ketchup to comply with Michael Bloomberg’s National Salt Reduction Initiative, you may not recognize the product.

As reported last month, Heinz is one of 16 national food manufacturers and food service vendors that has knuckled under to pressure from the New York City mayor to reduce the salt content in their products by 25 percent.

Heinz Ketchup is more than a condiment. It’s an icon. Despite assurances from spokerspersons at the Pittsburgh-based company that the new recipe will be as popular as the original, some things are not meant to be tampered with. I suspect many Americans share my fear that when all is said and done, Heinz will have converted its much-beloved ketchup to just another catsup.

And to what end? To satisfy the misguided ravings of yet another well-intentioned political gasbag who has decreed that you lack the wherewithal to make decisions regarding your personal health and that government should therefore step in as your surrogate.

Bloomberg’s self-anointment as New York’s health guru is part of a national craze among mayors and governors. In many localities, the efforts are taking the form of taxes, on soft drinks, for example, to shore up ailing economies under the guise of looking out for the well-being of constituents.

Even if one accepts the premise that restricting sodium helps people live longer, shouldn’t it be up to the individual to decide if he wants to make that change to his diet? If Michael Bloomberg chooses to eat to live, it is not government’s role or responsibility to sit in judgment of his decision. The same holds true, however, of people who choose to live to eat.

As for Heinz Ketchup, company spokeswoman Jessica Jackson told the New York Post that the new recipe has been tested across “a broad cross-section of consumers.” She added that Heinz is not worried that the new ketchup recipe will suffer the same fate as New Coke, which was resoundingly rejected by consumers when it was unveiled in 1985. I suppose we’ll see soon enough whether that optimism is justified.

According to Heinz’s website, over 650 million bottles of Heinz Ketchup are sold around the world in more than 140 countries, with annual sales of more than $1.5 billion.

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Tags: New York