Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Salt in excess is unhealthy. Yes! But that's besides the point.

The Food and Drug Administration is currently considering regulating how much salt can go in prepared foods. Obviously, given that we are in a democratic administration, the republicans feel obligated to dislike this initiative. But they are not the only ones opposed. I am too! (And you obviously care about that.)

First and foremost, a disclaimer: If you have too much salt, it is unhealthy. (beyond the fact that "too much" already implies a negative effect) There are numerous studies which point to the veracity of this statement and quite honestly, unless you get your information from the Salt Institute (I'm sure they are completely objective on the topic) you should already know so. However, that is completely irrelevant.

What I choose to eat is quite simply between me, myself and my food. Now, as it turns out, I do not like prepared foods very much and I try to be a bit careful with salt. But that is a choice for me to make. I am a grown man and I don't particularly like the idea of being treated like a child by anyone. If I want to reduce the salt in my diet, I'll look more carefully at ingredients on packages and pick up the salt shaker less often. I do NOT need the government to intervene in that matter.

Now, in that situation, what should the FDA be doing? Well, there is the point that it shouldn't exist in the first place, but I have a more moderate position: Mandate stricter disclosures. Perhaps create a sign that food manufacturers must place on their products that says: "This product contains unhealthy amounts of salt." Or maybe provide better nutritional education in schools.

Helping people is about providing them with information and teaching them skills, not removing options.

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