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Should Governments regulate salt content?


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http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Govts+should+regulate+food+salt+content+Study/3764343/story.html

Following on from potential legislation requiring restaurants to list calorie content, do you think Governments should place controls on food content?

My father died of a stroke so I can see the need for greater control. But I worry that it would be a slippery slope, and too many laws and restrictions will just end up damaging the industry...

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Epidemiological science, particular in diet, is correlational in nature and extremely inexact. Correlation doesn't prove causality, which is what these researchers often seem to fail to realise. Once the information then enters the public domain, it becomes open to journalistic licence, which leads in turn to headlines and stories that many scientists cringe at.

Running real controlled experiments to prove the science under consideration would be unethical in the extreme. However until this is done, we have speculative findings at best.

Building legislation on what could turn out in fifty years to be bogus science echoes the pre-enlightenment fusion of religion and state.

Let's try to keep a healthy separation between science and the state.

My suggestion would be to use science to inform legislation within reason but never to use it to dictate. Mandating food salt content would be dictatorial -- leading to the slippery slope you mentioned.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I have read that excess salt does not cause high blood pressure in everybody - certain people are susceptible to it. This would seem to indicate to me that more research should be done before we start mandating salt content. Not that I'm usually a big fan of very salty food (I don't like it when things actually taste salty - salt in food is fine to me, but if you put in so much I can taste it's not good!), I just think you have to think carefully before banning high salt foods.

On top of that, pickles are salty, salted peanuts are salty, but the fact is that you're not supposed to eat tonnes of them. Will the governement take portion size into allowance? How do you prevent people from eating more than the portion size? Answer is, you can't.

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Optimum salt intake is very different in everyone. Regulating it is pointless. How about just spreading knowledge and educating people instead of running to the coercive State? But, the war on salt is already underway. I'm sure many company's are already researching some just splendid alternatives. It's okay if people want to eat food with some strange chemical contrivance that tastes indistinctly like salt, but don't make the State force that on everyone.

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Funny: I'm reading Mark Kurlansky's Salt right now, so it's a bit ironic that, of all the substances one could battle over (fat, HFCS, booze, etc.), they've got NaCl in their sights. Battling over salt seems a central feature of human existence and government....

Almost immediately in his book, Kurlansky says that there's no consensus on how much salt a human body needs, and thus no consensus on what is "too much." Given that "too much" correlates with bad things ("Eating too much salt raises blood pressure and puts people at risk of strokes and heart disease, chronic illnesses which drain public health resources" -- very bad indeed!), it seems important to know where "ok" and "too much" divide, and that may be a fool's errand given Nick's points.

Doesn't this get down to Michael Pollan's "Eat Food," as in "(Not Heavily Salted Processed Food)," point?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I'm sure many company's are already researching some just splendid alternatives. It's okay if people want to eat food with some strange chemical contrivance that tastes indistinctly like salt, but don't make the State force that on everyone.

The only problem with that is -- as with all mammals -- humans need that NaCl to do its chemical duty. Governments and companies may find a flavor substitute, but good luck finding one that won't destroy the species.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I'm sure many company's are already researching some just splendid alternatives. It's okay if people want to eat food with some strange chemical contrivance that tastes indistinctly like salt, but don't make the State force that on everyone.

The only problem with that is -- as with all mammals -- humans need that NaCl to do its chemical duty. Governments and companies may find a flavor substitute, but good luck finding one that won't destroy the species.

Does anyone really believe that one day the government would actually start forcing some strange chemical contrivance upon the people and that salt will be banned and treated like cocaine or heroin? Because that notion itself is utterly ludicrous.

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I'm sure many company's are already researching some just splendid alternatives. It's okay if people want to eat food with some strange chemical contrivance that tastes indistinctly like salt, but don't make the State force that on everyone.

The only problem with that is -- as with all mammals -- humans need that NaCl to do its chemical duty. Governments and companies may find a flavor substitute, but good luck finding one that won't destroy the species.

Does anyone really believe that one day the government would actually start forcing some strange chemical contrivance upon the people and that salt will be banned and treated like cocaine or heroin? Because that notion itself is utterly ludicrous.

I don't think ludicrous is accurate. Ask any smoker ten years ago if they thought they wouldn't be allowed to smoke in their own home someday and they would tell you that idea was ludicrous. Nothing is out of the realm of possibility when government believes that their citizens want them to regulate their lives.

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It is a personal responsibility, not the government's, to regulate ones diet. The USDA already has 19 pages of regulations dictating the types and percentages of fruits used in fruit salad. http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRD3105806.

If you are concerned about your sodium intake, ask for nutritional information. Most major chains have specific data. Yes, it will disgust you, but that's the point. Local restaurants are willing to make you dinner with no salt upon request.

Caveat Emptor!

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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Yes, I think there should be regualtions pertaining to salt in our food.

Next time you go shopping, take a good look at teh nutritional lables on meats.

Takle for example ham, it can range anywhere from 18% to 33%. % of what? The precentage of sugested salt intake per day. Most poultry and pork products are "enhanced" or vacuum tumbled with a soy/salt solution.

I don't buy the stuff, but every time I look in the display case there's more an more procesed meat and less and less of fresh meat.

Commercial ice cream mixes contain quite a bit of salt too.

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Absolutely not. If you don't want salty food then don't buy it. If you are in a store or chain restaurant - look at the nutritional information. If you are at a local restaurant, tell them to hold off the salt. It's just that simple.

Furthermore, if enough people want processed foods with reduced salt content, manufacturers will start making them.

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Of course government should regulate salt content. We'll need a new cabinet-level department headed up by a Secretary of Salt to determine correct levels, to inspect all salt-containing products, to disseminate all rules and regulations regarding how much salt is allowable (and to justify why), and to exact and enforce heavy penalties for non-compliance. We'll also need a branch of this department to search out and deal harshly with salt subversives.

Once we get this department up and running smoothly, the next step will be to require all US citizens, at a time convenient to them of course, but within the next 30 days, to present themselves to the bureaucrats working in a division of the Department of Salt. Naturally, these bureaucrats will be chosen from among the many self-appointed experts currently busy in the US telling the rest of us how to live our lives, and what is and is not healthful, who can and who cannot put small plastic toys into children's meals, and so forth. These self-appointed experts already have the necessary busy-body-nanny experience and so will require much less training than the ignorant people that believe everyone should get to be in charge of themselves. So every US citizen should be required to present themselves to one of these experts, who will run all necessary tests, and then said expert will give each citizen a complete diet to follow, including a list of all ingredients that will be acceptable, that will be acceptable but only at certain levels, and that will be completely unacceptable.

The citizens must present themselves to these health experts on a quarterly basis, so that blood, urine and hair samples can be taken to be certain said citizens are complying.

This will be necessary because undoubtedly some citizens will not understand this is being done for their own good and will not comply voluntarily.

They will have to be dealt with immediately and decisively, lest their rebellious resistance incite others.

_____________________

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Absolutely not. If you don't want salty food then don't buy it. If you are in a store or chain restaurant - look at the nutritional information. If you are at a local restaurant, tell them to hold off the salt. It's just that simple.

Fair enough. If I understand correctly, you view this issue as a personal choice issue, and I view it as a public health issue. Kind of like smoking in the workplace, or soda machines in the schools.

I am just a cook, been one for almost 30 years now. I can deal with unexpected or unforseen situations in a fairly work-like manner. But when the situation could have been avoided, or forseen and prepared for, my anger is on par with a woman scorned.

North America has a "big" problem, and it is obesity. I have no idea what kind of strain the health related issues from obesity put on your hospitals and health care, or on the private and public workforces, but it is significant in Canada. Salt alone is not responsible for obesity, but salt combined with a diet high in fats and sugar and very little exercise does contribute to obesity. But folks, adult obesity is one thing, childhood obesity is another. Children eat what's put in front of them at home, what's served to them at the school cafeteria, or what is heavily promoted through the media-- a fact not lost on the food mnfctrs.....

In our neck of the woods the Provincial and Federal Gov'ts have recognized childhood obesity and have made forays into banning soda and snack machines from schools. Salt, I hope will be next.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the food industry, I urge you to contact a "broadliner", a large distributer like Sysco or US Foods and have a peek at their product guide. As I have mentioned in my previous post, salt is in brined and processed meats like ham and pastrami, but in coldcuts like roast beef and sausages, it's in "enhanced" pork and poultry products, in sauces, soups, mixes, etc etc. etc. A local restaurant can "hold off the salt" and put not a speck of salt on your meal, but the mnfctrs have already salted it to death.

What's more, if enough people want processed foods with reduced salt content, manufacturers will start making them.

Fair enough. Why do mnfctrs put salt into their products in the first place? Face it, over the last 10 years more and more salt has been creeping in processed foods.

-It is neccesary for brined foods, and it is neccesary for soups and sauces. But look at the nutritional chart on ham, for instance: 33% of the daily requirement of salt in one serving of ham? Is so much really necesary?

-Well, it's a very cheap additive, and it doesn't have a "dirty" name like MSG or HFCS

-It does enhance the shelf life a bit longer.

-But the main reason is salt is addictive.

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... do you think Governments should place controls on food content?

NO.

Hell NO.

and

When you pry the salt shaker from my cold dead fingers.

While it seems SO obvious that this is no place for gubment involvement, in the many other countries (and now regrettably the US too), when the gubment starts paying for the majority of health care they have a huge pulpit to not start dictating "If we're going to pay for your medical care you BET we can have a say in how you eat, drink, recreate and live your lives. PS Sky diving, bungee jumping, smoking, drinking alcohol, eating more than 1500 calories a day, saturated fat intake, and salt possession are now felonies"

Education and choice is the right answer.

Potassium Chloride is a currently widely accepted substitute for table salt if you need one.

'nuff said.

The Big Cheese

BlackMesaRanch.com

My Blog: "The Kitchen Chronicles"

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"The Flavor of the White Mountains"

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If you want to regulate salt, regulate it in processed foods. Restaurant cooks and chefs have for the most part, presumably have been taught to salt appropriately. Chain restaurants may be somewhat different and on a level a step or two above processed foods. But at some point, we need to tell Big Brother to just butt out.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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If you want to regulate salt, regulate it in processed foods. Restaurant cooks and chefs have for the most part, presumably have been taught to salt appropriately. Chain restaurants may be somewhat different and on a level a step or two above processed foods. But at some point, we need to tell Big Brother to just butt out.

This is a very fair and intelligent compromise.

Many chains rely on the broadliners to supply them, and the broadliners rely on the mnfctrs to supply them

Education is also a huge issue. How many highschools still teach "Home Ec."?

No one wants to, or can, put a price tag on health care. But health care is a finite resource. The less strain we put on it for care that could be avoided, the better it will work for us when we really need it--like natural disasters, epidemics, etc.

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Salt alone is not responsible for obesity, but salt combined with a diet high in fats and sugar and very little exercise does contribute to obesity.

Why do you say this? In what way does eating salt lead to obesity? Can you cite studies?

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Absolutely not. If you don't want salty food then don't buy it. If you are in a store or chain restaurant - look at the nutritional information. If you are at a local restaurant, tell them to hold off the salt. It's just that simple.

Furthermore, if enough people want processed foods with reduced salt content, manufacturers will start making them.

I agree. The only change I might possibly support would be a labeling standard, and that only after some proper research and testing had been done to determine if there's a way to improve on what's currently in use to make things clearer to the consumer. (Random changing of labels because someone thinks it MIGHT be better is just a waste of everyone's time and money.)

I don't eat a high sodium diet. I do feel certain things NEED salt to enhance the flavor, but I'm not one of those 'dump salt on without tasting it' types, and I tend to shy away from commercial foods (soups, for example) that tend to be high in sodium.

Guess who still has high blood pressure? Yup. Guess whose mom had high blood pressure starting at the same age, in spite of what everyone would consider a healthy lifestyle? Yup. It's my genetics that are a problem, not the fact that I occasionally put salt on a baked potato.

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Those of you saying yes, government should control salt content, think about it - Making information available about the salt content of a product and how much people should be eating is one thing. But do you really want the government to tell you what you can and cannot eat? Like, actually prevent you from eating certain things?

Personally, I'm happy to be advised. I'd still be happy if it was law that information about salt content must be shown on food packaging and perhaps even on chain restaurant menus (I'm not sure what packaging law states now). But if the government thinks they can tell me what to eat, they can bugger right off.

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Governments should pave roads, help with natural (and man-made) disasters, and protect its citizenry, collecting as few taxes along the way as is absolutely necessary to accomplish these things. To suggest they should regulate salt content is Nanny Statism at its worst. If government bureaucrats have so much free time on their hands that they can dream up such intrusions into our personal freedoms, then perhaps they should donate a portion of their salaries back to taxpayers and do something more worthwhile with their time. Like, learn how to cook.

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Governments should pave roads, help with natural (and man-made) disasters, and protect its citizenry, collecting as few taxes along the way as is absolutely necessary to accomplish these things. To suggest they should regulate salt content is Nanny Statism at its worst. If government bureaucrats have so much free time on their hands that they can dream up such intrusions into our personal freedoms, then perhaps they should donate a portion of their salaries back to taxpayers and do something more worthwhile with their time. Like, learn how to cook.

How do you feel about soda machines in schools?

How do you feel about snack machines in schools?

Hydrogenated fats?

Smoking in the workplace or in restaurants?

Fruit flavoured cigars and tobacco products aimed at children?

"Herbal" remedies from countries that have very lax/non-existant food laws?

Meat and produce from countries that have lax food laws?

Education is the way to go, but who's going to do that? Who's responsibility is that?.........

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