Salt reactions

by Walter Olson on April 23, 2010

  • The report in the Washington Post that the Food and Drug Administration intends to work toward mandatory limits on salt in processed food provoked some negative public reaction, and now the agency has issued a public statement not exactly denying the story, but complaining that it “leaves a mistaken impression that the FDA has begun the process of regulating the amount of sodium in foods. The FDA is not currently working on regulations nor has it made a decision to regulate sodium content in foods at this time.” Emphasis added to point out the cagey phrasings: there is no denial that the agency’s leadership intends to do all these things in the future, exactly as the Post reported.
  • In what is known as coordinated publicity, the trial balloon, if a trial balloon it was, was sent up to coincide with the release of a large National Institute of Medicine report pushing for salt reductions. More: WSJ Health Blog;
  • In more coordinated publicity, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Ct.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Ia.) held a conference call with reporters demanding that the agency move faster to regulate salt. “I don’t want this to take 10 years. … This is a public health crisis,” said DeLauro (via Carter Wood at ShopFloor, who comments and in a separate post points out some CSPI lawyer angles);
  • Welcome listeners from Ray Dunaway’s morning show on WTIC Hartford, where I discussed these issues this morning.
  • And here’s an apparently new group calling itself “My Food, My Choice” that has come up with a good epithet for NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s squad of food regulators: “bland-lords“.
  • More: Stanley Goldfarb, Weekly Standard.

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Shopfloor » Blog Archive » When the FDA Gets Its Way
04.26.10 at 6:26 am

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1 Richard Nieporent 04.23.10 at 8:00 am

Citing anonymous FDA sources, the paper says the agency is aiming to work with manufacturers on a step-down approach, in which salt would be subtracted in small increments over a decade. The hope is that the phase-out will be unnoticeable to consumers.

By this logic, if you put a frog in a pot of water and heat the water slowly it will be unnoticeable to the frog.

2 Todd Rogers 04.23.10 at 9:51 am

Whenever a politician uses the term, “crisis” you know there’s about to be some serious legislat’n coming down the pike. Hear “crisis,” lose choices.

3 Patrick 04.23.10 at 12:03 pm

DeLauro was the chief sponsor of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 (small farmers and artisan foodmakers must register with the new Department of Food Safety), which thankfully didn’t get off the ground. Overlawyered covered it extensively here:

http://overlawyered.com/2009/04/hr-875-food-safety-modernization-act-of-2009/

It’s worth remembering that when DeLauro was stung by widespread web criticism of a bill which by its terms allowed federal regulation of roadside tomato stands, she blamed a (still unidentified) libertarian conspiracy, which was somewhere “out there.” No doubt this conspiracy is just waiting for cues from its masters at Big Salt to spring into action once more.

4 Amanda 04.23.10 at 1:08 pm

I agree with Todd.

Crisis = an unstable situation of extreme danger or difficulty.

Politicians need to re-learn that definition.

Ridiculous amounts of salt have been in processed food for years, and it’s not exactly a secret. This is not an unstable situation of extreme danger or difficulty; it’s not a public health crisis, it’s a public health concern.

Yes, it’s a problem that ought to be addressed, but we’re not all going to die in three days (or whatever), if something isn’t done about it right now.

And by the way, we still have to option to make our own food and eat right, if we choose to. You shouldn’t rely on government agencies to take care of your own diet… or finances…

5 Amanda 04.23.10 at 1:10 pm

And by the way, we still have to option to make our own food and eat right, if we choose to.
I say that, of course, while I sit here eating a $1 McDonald’s Hot n’ Spicy chicken sandwich. :-P

6 Doug 04.23.10 at 3:47 pm

I prefer the chicken sandwich off the dollar menu.

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