Fill in the Blank: "We’ve done some health education on _____, but the fact is that it’s in food and it’s almost impossible for someone to get it out. Really, this is something that requires an industry-wide response and preferably a national response."
— New York City “public health” czar Thomas Frieden
What is Frieden referring to? Salmonella? Rodenticide? Zombies?
Guess again. In the latest chapter of their relentless pursuit to “save” us all from delicious foods, nutrition zealots are continuing to wage war against… salt. The New York Sun reported yesterday that anti-salt activists are now poised to regulate New York City’s “forgotten killer” into oblivion (apparently “the silent killer” got old).
You might remember Frieden as the condom commissioner, but Frieden has a much longer résumé. Once a central player in the fight to ban smoking in bars, mandate calorie-counts in restaurants, and outlaw margarine, Frieden is now on a mission to rub salt in the wounds of New Yorkers—in hopes of policing what has been considered an essential mineral for approximately 4,700 years.
There’s just one tiny problem. As the Sun reports, medical experts believe harm can be done by salt-restricting diets. In fact, “sodium is considered to be an essential mineral, necessary for helping the body absorb major nutrients.”
Frieden claims that high blood pressure is “the leading cause of early death in New York City and nationally.” But why blame salt? As a meta-study published in the prestigious British Medical Journal found, "It is unclear what effects a low sodium diet has on cardiovascular events and mortality." Indeed, other studies have even shown deadly consequences of salt restriction.
But facts have always been surmountable obstacles for food cops, so why should we expect them to be deterred this time? As reported by the Sun, Michael Jacobson believes that “Cities and states could certainly threaten warnings on the labels or on supermarket walls." But even that is child’s play compared to the food police’s ultimate goal: Convincing the Food and Drug Administration to take salt off the list of additives presumed to be safe, and replicating “a public education campaign [as] in Britain that was designed to pressure the salt industry to lower sodium content in food.”
Should the food nannies succeed, expect fewer holes in your salt shaker.