New York First, it was a ban on artery-clogging trans fats. Then calories were posted on menus. Now the New York City health department is taking on salt.
City officials are meeting with food makers and restaurants to discuss reducing the amount of salt in common foods such as soup, pasta sauce, salad dressing and bread.
About three-quarters of the salt Americans eat comes from prepared and processed food, not from the salt shaker. That’s why New York officials want the food industry to help cut back.
“It’s very hard for an individual to do this on their own,” said Dr. Lynn Silver, an assistant commissioner in the health department.
Too much salt raises blood pressure, and high blood pressure raises the risk of heart disease. A recent analysis showed that for every gram of salt cut, as many as 250,000 cases of heart disease and 200,000 deaths could be prevented over a decade.
In the meantime, the Food and Drug Administration is considering a request to regulate salt content. An Institute of Medicine committee is also looking at ways to reduce salt consumption. The FDA says it is waiting for that committee report, due next year, before deciding the regulation issue.