November 30, 2007

First They Came For The Sugar. And I Said Nothing.***


Robbo to Salt Nazis: "Back off!"

The Food Police are trying to slap federal regs on salt consumption:

A consumer group prodded the Food and Drug Administration yesterday to regulate salt as a food additive, arguing that excessive salt consumption by Americans may be responsible for more than 100,000 deaths a year.

The government has long placed salt in a "generally recognized as safe" or GRAS category, which grandfathers in a huge list of familiar food ingredients. But in an FDA hearing yesterday, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) urged the agency to enforce tougher regulations for sodium.

Doing so "lays the foundation for saving tens of thousands of lives per year," said CSPI Director Michael Jacobson in an interview after the hearing. It "just has tremendous potential to health and to cut health-care costs."

CSPI first petitioned the FDA in 1978 to regulate salt in food more closely and has since sued the agency unsuccessfully in federal court twice over the ingredient. A 2005 petition to the FDA by CSPI prompted the agency to hold hearings yesterday to review sodium chloride's status in food.

"After 25 years of inactivity, the FDA is taking the salt issue seriously," Jacobson said. "They're really gathering information . . . and getting an earful from all sides."

The average American consumes 3,353 milligrams of sodium every day -- more than twice what the Institute of Medicine says is adequate for healthy people and 1,000 milligrams more than the 2,300 milligrams set as a daily limit by the 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. The intake considered adequate is far lower: 1,500 milligrams for those 9 to 50 years old; 1,300 milligrams for those 51 to 70, and 1,200 milligrams for people 70 and older -- or less than what is found in a ham and Swiss cheese sandwich on whole wheat with mustard.

The article goes on to state that the current proposals seem to be aimed at limiting the salt content of processed foods, but you watch: This is the thin end of the wedge. Next thing you know, they'll be standing over my table counting the number of shakes I use (which is quite a few, as I luuuuv teh salty).

(BTW, who else out there was frightened by the above-pic'd salt monster from Star Trek when they were kids? Most Trek beasties I could take or leave alone, but this one scared the bejaysus out of me.)

Yips! to fellow saltophile Rachel.

***And really, I wouldn't. I have no sweet tooth whatsoever. Can't stand sugar.

Posted by Robert at November 30, 2007 09:59 AM | TrackBack

Argh! I HATE the food police. My youngest son has CF and he is on a high salt and high fat diet. He physically needs the extra calories and sodium. The weirdest moment in my life was when a dietitian told me it would be ideal if I could get Max to eat 1/2 a stick of butter a day. Potato chips and salty pretzels are health food for him.

Posted by: Sarah G. at November 30, 2007 10:21 AM

That salt vampire scared the crappydoodle out of me!

Posted by: Chai-rista at November 30, 2007 10:27 AM

And in the category of broad sweeping statements: "Salt intake is closely linked to stroke, kidney disease and high blood pressure."

Drastically reducing sodium intake will reduce high blood pressure in some people. As stroke and kidney disease are linked to hypertension, I guess there's some link to sodium intake, but saying "closely" and implying if a healthy person reduces his sodium intake, he'll reduce his chance of stroke is a bit much.

And these groups tend to want all processed foods gotten rid of, working by the death of a thousand cuts. I'm unimpressed.

Posted by: owlish at November 30, 2007 11:20 AM

Is someone talking? I can't hear anything.


Posted by: jen at November 30, 2007 11:37 AM

I'm always reminded of Peej O'Rourke's line about how too much of ANYthing is bad for you. He suggests sticking your head in a bucket of pure spring water for half an hour and seeing what happens.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at November 30, 2007 11:46 AM

I also found the salt monster to be the most scary.

The monster I loved the most (felt sorry for, and empathized with) was the Horta ( I'm pretty sure I cried about their plight.

Posted by: Lynellen at November 30, 2007 11:59 AM

Jeez, again? Haven't we gone through this before? Wasn't it 10 or so years ago that the health nazis got on the too much salt kick. Then trans-fats or something knocked it off the "what's going to kill you now" list? Now they're re-cycling this crap.
Oh but it gets even better. The International Agency for Research on Cancer is going to declare overnight shift work as a possible carcinogen.
How's that?

Posted by: Tbird at November 30, 2007 12:24 PM

Tbird: I heard that about overnight workers, too. And I thought the same thing: someone is going to push for legislation making it illegal to work between midnight and 8 am.

Posted by: Rachel at November 30, 2007 02:08 PM

No sweet tooth here either. But these nannies in jackboots will have to pry the nam pla out of my cold, dead fingers.

On the subject of salt in science fiction, my favorite quote comes from Futurama (source of many, many quotes). Here's Bender, a robot with no sense of taste, cooking a meal for Fry:

Fry: That's the saltiest thing I've ever tasted! And I once ate a big heaping bowl of salt!
Bender: There's nothing wrong with that food. I used 10 percent less salt than the lethal dose.
Fry: Hmm. Maybe I shouldn't have had seconds....

Posted by: utron at November 30, 2007 06:18 PM

It makes one wonder about the implications of Matthew 5:13.

Vade retro, salt monster.

Posted by: The Abbot at November 30, 2007 07:26 PM

I'm not sure, and by that I mean no one has actually tested us but, I THINK we have a low salt diet.
My mother was diagnosed with high blood pressure about 20 years ago and we were not permitted to put salt into any dish. She would liberally shake some kind of fake salt over her plate.
Well, it is all a matter of what you are used to. I think, althought once again I am not sure, that we use little salt in our food. It would be interesting to find out what our salt intake is.

Posted by: Babs at November 30, 2007 08:20 PM

Did I mention that my husband absolutely craves deli olives and pepperoni? Total salty land...

Posted by: Babs at November 30, 2007 08:23 PM

*says nothing while sharpening his chef's knife*

Posted by: Boy Named Sous at December 2, 2007 01:29 AM

Living is bad for your health.

I sure hope they don't ban midnight shift. Its the only time I get to post stupid crap on blogs like this one.

Posted by: stillers at December 2, 2007 03:52 AM