Salt: The Forgotten Killer
… and FDA's Failure to Protect the Public's Health
Salt, at the levels present in the diets of most people around the world, is probably the single most harmful substance in the food supply. Salt is used liberally in many processed foods and restaurant meals, with some meals containing far more than a day's worth of sodium.
Reducing sodium consumption by half would save an estimated 150,000 lives per year. That in turn would reduce medical care and other costs by roughly $1.5 trillion over 20 years.
The link to salt consumption
- Consuming more salt tends to increase blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.
- Sodium intake—mostly from salt—has drifted upwards over the past 30 years and now averages about 4,000 milligrams per day—about twice the recommended amount.
- The vast majority—about 77 percent—of sodium comes from processed foods and foods eaten outside the home.
- Many restaurant meals provide more than a whole day's worth of sodium. Thousands of packaged foods provide one-fourth or more of a day's maximum recommended intake.
- Many health and medical organizations have advocated a 50 percent reduction in sodium in processed and restaurant foods over the next 10 years.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture have done little to reduce sodium consumption.
- Consumers should choose less-salty foods.
- Food manufacturers and restaurants should use as little salt as possible in their products.
- Government should:
- set gradually declining limits on the salt content of foods that provide the most salt to the average diet
- encourage food manufacturers and restaurants to voluntarily use less salt
- require chain restaurants to put warning notices on their menus, menu boards and brochures for foods and meals that are extra high in sodium.
- improve labeling of packaged foods to highlight those that are high in salt