Salt Should Be Regulated Food Additive, Group Says

  1. Salt Should Be Regulated Food Additive, Group Says
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    Feb 24, 12:16 PM (ET)


    By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A consumer group sued the federal government Thursday, saying that salt is killing tens of thousands of Americans and that regulators have done too little to control salt in food.

    Despite advisories to take it easy on sodium, Americans are now consuming about 4,000 milligrams a day -- nearly double the recommended limit to keep blood pressure under control, the Center for Science in the Public Interest said.

    So the CSPI renewed a lawsuit first filed in 1983 to ask federal courts to force the Food and Drug Administration to declare sodium a food additive instead of categorizing it as "generally recognized as safe." This would give the agency the authority to set limits for salt in foods.

    "There is no way the FDA can look at the science and say with a straight face that salt is 'generally recognized as safe,"' CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson said in a statement.

    "In fact, salt is generally recognized as unsafe, because it is a major cause of heart attacks and stroke. The federal government should require food manufacturers to gradually lower their sodium levels."

    The CSPI said Americans get most of their salt in processed and restaurant foods. In 1983 the FDA had just begun requiring labels describing sodium content on some packaged foods so the court decided to wait and see how it worked.

    The new lawsuit, filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, contends that it has not worked well because salt content in foods is higher than ever.

    "FDA is currently evaluating CSPI's report on salt, including the recommendations it contains," Kathleen Quinn, a spokeswoman for the agency, said.

    The government says Americans should try to keep sodium to about 2,300 milligrams a day. "This is about 1 teaspoon," the American Heart Association says.

    Salt is not found only in the salt shaker. For example, a teaspoon of baking soda contains 1,000 mg of sodium.

    Patients with high blood pressure and others at high risk are told to eat even less salt -- 1,500 mg a day. "Nevertheless, sodium intake has increased steadily since the 1970s," the CSPI said in a statement.

    "The medical community has reached a consensus that diets high in sodium are a major cause of high blood pressure as well as pre-hypertension, or blood pressure just short of high blood pressure," said Dr. Stephen Havas of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

    "Today roughly 65 million Americans have high blood pressure and another 45 million have pre-hypertension."

    The CSPI issued a report saying that processed foods and restaurant fare contribute almost 80 percent of sodium to the U.S. diet. Frozen dinners are especially high in salt, the report finds.

    Depending on the brand, some salad dressings contain nearly a quarter of the day's allowance of sodium while others are low in sodium, the report finds.

    One chain restaurant's breakfast contains two days' worth of sodium -- 4,460 mg -- the CSPI report said.

    Chinese restaurant meals can be especially, high too. "A typical order of General Tso's chicken with rice has 3,150 mg," the group said.

    Dr. Claude Lenfant, president of the World Hypertension League and a former head of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute supported the report.

    "If we could reduce the sodium in processed and restaurant foods by half, we could save about 150,000 lives per year," he said.
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Yes we do need MORE regulation, don't we. How about holding individuals responsible for their OWN intake. Food labels are easy enough to read these days; let them read. If they can't then no governmental regulations are gonna save them from themselves anyhow. And going out to eat is rife with risk, what with all the sodium, MSG, fats, and sugars.....

    . Maybe we should all toss the salt shakers, sugar bowls and butter dishes, and only dine IN. Common SENSE people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    will they suggest regulating sugar next? Why not?
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Feb 24, '05
  4. by   BeachNurse
    Quote from SmilingBluEyes
    Yes we do need MORE regulation, don't we. How about holding individuals responsible for their OWN intake. Food labels are easy enough to read these days; let them read. If they can't then no governmental regulations are gonna save them from themselves anyhow. And going out to eat is rife with risk, what with all the sodium, MSG, fats, and sugars.....

    . Maybe we should all toss the salt shakers, sugar bowls and butter dishes, and only dine IN. Common SENSE people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    will they suggest regulating sugar next? Why not?
    Exactly
  5. by   fergus51
    I love salt and I'm gonna eat it all I want.
  6. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I don't use table salt. I find most foods are more than salty enough anyhow. I use little when cooking, also. Mostly LOTS of spices. There is so much salt in prepared foods, it's ridiculous. But then again, it's easy to pick this out when you read labels.
  7. by   leslie :-D
    i would love it if they regulated the amts of salt used in food.
    yes, we are responsible for what we choose to eat.

    but even in a hospital, you order a nas diet- just because there wasn't any salt added, have you ever tasted how salty the food is anyway?

    so yes, i am a proponent of salt regulation, obviously for health reasons. and for those that want their salt, then they can use the salt shaker.
  8. by   mercyteapot
    It will never happen, IMO. Salt is an inexpensive flavor enhancer and preservative, and as we have seen from the plethora of low salt items already on the market voluntarily, many people can't or won't pay extra for foods flavored with other seasonings. Personally, I didn't even own a salt shaker until this past Christmas, when I bought one b/c my Mom was coming to visit and she has seemed frustrated in the past at my failure to provide table salt without being reminded every meal. I try to limit the high sodium foods I buy, but that's what the labeling laws are for.
  9. by   live4today
    Quote from fergus51
    i love salt and i'm gonna eat it all i want.
    well fergus51.........i'm in total agreement with you on this one!
    [color=#483d8b]
    [color=#483d8b]would you please pass the iodized salt?
    [color=#483d8b]
    [color=#483d8b]and by the way......my blood pressure is fine. it's my love life that's suffering. fftopic:
  10. by   KRVRN
    4,000 mg a day?

    I was told in school that a typical American that isn't watching their salt intake and tends to enjoy foods high in salt (chips, etc), consumes more like 9,000 mg a day!
  11. by   Tweety
    Salt is added in large amounts to practically everything. You can have a cup of soup or drink a glass of tomato juice and get your salt intake for the day. It's obsence the amount of sodium in food. Those of us who want to regulate our salt intake can buy no convience foods like canned goods, ketchup, salad dressings, marinades, cereal, on and on and on. Forget going out to eat.

    Not that I'm saying it should be regulated either. But there is too much salt in things and low sodium living isn't has easy as one might think.
  12. by   Roy Fokker
    Quote from fergus51
    I love salt and I'm gonna eat it all I want.
    Ditto!

    I mean, how else are we supposed to do Tequila shots anyway? Can you imagine NOT having something to lick after that shot goes down?
  13. by   URO-RN
    Quote from Roy Fokker
    Ditto!

    I mean, how else are we supposed to do Tequila shots anyway? Can you imagine NOT having something to lick after that shot goes down?
    I've never had a tequila shot. Not a big fan of hard liquour. I like wine,beer etc..
    Anywhoooo...................................
    There is salt in everything! What a silly proposition.
  14. by   Thunderwolf
    But, I would miss my salt. My taste buds would go through major withdrawal. It just wouldn't be a pretty sight.

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