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Archive for Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Too salty: Report calls on FDA to crack down

April 21, 2010

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— Too much salt is hidden in Americans’ food, and regulators plan to work with manufacturers to cut back — but the government isn’t ready to go along with a major new recommendation that it order a decrease.

“We believe we can achieve some substantial voluntary reductions,” Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “We are shaping a strategy, and that strategy involves working in partnership.”

Don’t expect soups, pizzas and breakfast cereals — yes, they contain added sodium, too — to taste different any time soon. The FDA’s plans are still being formulated, but the idea is for gradual change so consumer taste buds can adjust, as well as industry recipes and production methods.

Americans eat about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt daily, more than double what they need for good health and enough to increase the risk of high blood pressure, strokes and other problems. Most of that sodium doesn’t come from the table salt shaker; it’s hidden inside common processed foods and restaurant meals.

On Tuesday, the prestigious Institute of Medicine said the food industry has made little progress in voluntarily reducing sodium. The advisers urged the FDA to set maximum sodium levels for different foods in a stepwise rollback, so that eventually average consumption would drop by about half a teaspoon.

“This needs to be a mandatory standard,” said Dr. Jane E. Henney of the University of Cincinnati, a former FDA commissioner who headed the IOM’s study. Because salt is so “ubiquitous, having one or two in the industry make strong attempts at this doesn’t give us that even playing field over time. It’s not sustainable.”

One in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, which in turn is a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. And while being overweight and inactive raises blood pressure, too much salt is a big culprit as well. The American Medical Association has said 150,000 lives a year could be saved by cutting in half sodium levels in processed and restaurant food.

“This is crying out for a change that’s long overdue,” added Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who helped spur the IOM report and plans hearings on next steps.

Government guidelines set 2,300 milligrams of sodium as the maximum daily intake — the amount above which health problems can appear. The IOM says people need just 1,500 mg a day for good health, less if they’re over 50. Yet average consumption is more than 3,400 mg.

Comments

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 5 months ago

"This needs to be a mandatory standard"

With a new healthcare law our country cannot possibly afford, the government must now look at ways to mandate healthier lifestyles. Some of you are comfortable with the government forcing the private sector into behavior modification. Many of us, however, are not.

That's why when we read "regulators plan to work with manufacturers," we need to assume the government will begin requiring the marketplace to bend to its will. Such recommendations rarely remain recommendations. They almost uniformly morph into mandates.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

"Some of you are comfortable with the government forcing the private sector into behavior modification."

The private sector has been involved in behavior modification forever. The high amount of salt in processed foods is a prime example-- it's there because once you're trained to like salty food, you'll eat just about anything if it has enough salt.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 5 months ago

The big difference, of course, is that you and I are free to make purchasing decisions. Government mandates do not provide such flexibility.

Not every good idea should become the law of the land.

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Corey Williams 4 years, 5 months ago

Yep, and they'll stop you from buying extra salt at the store to put on your food. Hell, they'll probably start rationing salt and giving it to us like the Romans used to get it. We'll have machines in our houses that dispense only what we need per day. People on the coast will be capturing sea water and drying it out....

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

"The big difference, of course, is that you and I are free to make purchasing decisions."

When it comes to food, tastes are developed in childhood, and children really have very little choice in what they eat. And to compound that sad fact, the food industry has bombarded them for decades with advertisements that entice them to eat food that's bad for them, but good for the corporate bottomline.

I find it ironic that the most sheeplike people on this forum are the most likely to complain when they feel their freedom of choice has been infringed upon.

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notajayhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

"When it comes to food, tastes are developed in childhood, and children really have very little choice in what they eat."

And yet virtually everything I eat today I hated as a child.

And do you really believe that all the vegetarians in Lawrence weren't fed any meat when they were little?

"I find it ironic that the most sheeplike people on this forum are the most likely to complain when they feel their freedom of choice has been infringed upon."

So ... let me get this straight - those who complain are 'sheeplike', those that let the nanny state tell them what they're allowed to eat are not.

Ummmm, 'kay.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 5 months ago

Unless a food product contains mercury, lead or cyanide, you and I should be ambivalent to what people eat. So should our government.

Opinions like yours lead government officials to enact pesky little things like Prohibition.

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Kirk Larson 4 years, 5 months ago

"Unless a food product contains mercury, lead, cyanide or excessive salt, you and I should be ambivalent to what people eat. So should our government."

There, fixed.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 5 months ago

So sad that you're willing to give it all up to to the nanny state. Just a complete surrender of your will, your mind, your responsibilities and your freedoms.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

"Unless a food product contains mercury, lead or cyanide,"

Those aren't the only toxic materials in the world. Salt is also quite toxic if taken in large enough quantities, and that's exactly the situation right now in the average American diet, quite by design.

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notajayhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

"Salt is also quite toxic if taken in large enough quantities"

So is air. And I sincerely hope you're just as agreeable if the government tells you to cut down on your intake of that.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

Reducing salt in the average diet will cost very little.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 5 months ago

...said the man who wants to take everything from us, one "very little" piece at a time.

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