WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week 200 food, health, nutrition, and science journalists will receive an unusual package from the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF): a set of “I Heart NY” salt and pepper shakers. The Center explained today that with city Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden’s ten-year salt reduction plan now in effect, many of New Yorkers’ favorite foods will be taking an unfortunate turn for the bland.

According to CCF Director of Research David Martosko, sodium has taken the place of trans fats as Frieden’s main culinary target.

“News stories that have called salt ‘the next food panic du jour’ have it exactly right,” says Martosko. “Health activists are comparing salt to tobacco or the plague, but people have been safely adding it to their foods for over 4,000 years. If Thomas Frieden gets his wish, New Yorkers will be carting around their own salt shakers just like the ones reporters are getting this week.”

Since the announcement of Frieden’s goal to remove 50 percent of the salt from all restaurant meals, experts including the editor of the American Journal of Hypertension have urged the Health Commissioner to reconsider. Salt is an essential ingredient for human survival, and a sharp reduction like the one proposed by the city health czar could have serious public health consequences.

The Center’s shaker stunt also comes on the heels of new evidence that salt may be a natural antidepressant, according to a new study that will be published in the July issue of Physiology & Behavior.

Enclosed with their new salt and pepper shakers, journalists will find a card reading, “Congratulations! You’re now on the cutting edge of New York City culinary culture. Flavor your food with pride (in your city, if not its nutty government).”