Salt: Government Mandatory Limits May Be Coming Soon

Salt many soon be restricted in all food sold in America if the new FDA limits are imposed as planned. The Food and Drug Administration could place “mandatory limits” on salt if the voluntary measures posed to food companies do not achieve the desired results.

Currently, the request by the FDA to lower sodium levels in food is voluntary, but that could change according to officials at the federal agency. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg recently stated during an interview with the Associated Press that salt levels in food are of “huge interest and concern” for the government.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg also had this to say about the enhanced role the federal government could play in what we eat:

“We believe we can make a big impact working with the industry to bring sodium levels down, because the current level of consumption really is higher than it should be for health. I think one of the things we are very mindful of is that we need to have a realistic timeline.”

Hamburg is garnering support for her plan to lower salt levels in food plan. Senator Tom Harking, the chair of the Congressional committee which oversees the FDA, said, “As the clock ticks, America’s blood pressure, along with health costs due to chronic disease, continue to rise.”

Those opposed to the issue, even if they support the concept of healthier eating, maintain that the FDA plan is just another example of federal government overreach. Republicans have been against similar Food and Drug Administration measures posed in the past, making the new plan a hard sell in the House of Representatives. Members of the GOP fought against the Obama administration when a plan to mandate calorie labels on restaurant menus was proposed. The majority of Republicans in Congress also did not support First Lady Michelle Obama’s school lunches plan, which has garnered backlash from students, parents, and school staffers in recent months.

The food industry has been bracing for government action since a Institute of Medicine report in 2010 determined that the progress made on making foods less salty was unacceptable. The IOM advised the federal government to create maximum sodium levels for various foods via the FDA. The report “favored a voluntary route” to accomplish this goal.

Americans reportedly consume a third more salt daily than the government recommends. The 1 ½ teaspoons of sodium ingested by the typical United States citizen each day could lead to strokes, increase the risk of high blood pressure, and other health issues.

In addition to making food more flavorful, food manufacturers add salt to products to prevent bacteria growth and to increase the shelf life of the product. A multitude of health activists and groups reportedly favor mandatory sodium levels but concede that voluntary guidelines are a good start.

What do you think about mandatory salt levels in food sold in grocery stores and restaurants in America?

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