Here we go again. The headline-hungry mob of food scolds at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) have trotted out (or perhaps invented) another statistic claiming to link a high death toll with a food ingredient they don’t approve of. This time it comes from Bill Jeffery, CSPI’s national coordinator for Canada, who told Toronto’s Globe and Mail today that excess salt consumption — a longstanding CSPI bogeyman — is costing our neighbors to the north 15,000 lives per year.
It should come as no surprise that Jeffery failed to offer a shred of proof for the figure, and that science indicates little or no link between salt intake and increased mortality. To name just one example: A study published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension found that "few data link sodium intake to health outcomes, and that which is available is inconsistent."
Jeffery’s evidence-free estimation is eerily similar to CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson’s 2003 assertion that acrylamide — a chemical found in CSPI no-nos like potato chips and French fries — causes "tens of thousands" of cancers among Canadians. As we pointed out in a brief to the FDA, numerous scientific investigations have demonstrated no link between acrylamide in food and human cancers. And, in those few instances in which acrylamide was found to have some adverse health consequences, you would literally need to eat your weight in fries every day to be at risk.