Bloomberg moves forward with NYC plan to reduce salt in foods

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by mkrishnan, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #1
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/business/11salt.html?hp

    I think it's a good idea, based on what I've seen of the scientific data. Furthermore, salt can easily be added to foods, but it cannot be easily removed. Personally, I briefly was on a low salt diet for a completely different reason (an inner ear problem) last year, and one of the major problems I found was that, even on "heart healthy" menu choices, if anything, fat and perhaps overall calories or carbs were controlled, but the amount of sodium was ghastly. I'm off that diet now, but I still try to reduce my sodium intake where possible, and I would like to have more options.
     
  2. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #2
    The UK has had pretty good results in reducing salt content across the board. It is most definitely doable and the rewards are immediate and huge.

    I too have been on a low salt diet recently and it basically means no processed foods. A can of chicken noodle soup can have up to 90% of the RDA of sodium. A package of frozen peas i bought had 8% RDA per serving, more than a small serving of Cheetos.

    Salt is added to virtually everything and its spread is insidious. I believe that more than 80% of the salt we consume is already present in food. Individuals are responsible for the remainder.

    I think it's time for a massive tax on salt.
     
  3. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #3
    This is the main problem with eating out -- even if there are "options," it's almost impossible to eat out and maintain a recommended daily intake of sodium in the US at present. And, as you say, even eating at home requires changes in the amount of packaged food one eats. Now, probably many of us should eat less packaged food, but if it can be made without so much sodium, I think that would be good also.
     
  4. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #4
    Yeah its always annoying how much salt there is in packaged food. But Ugg is right - it has dropped in the UK.
     
  5. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #5
    Like you said earlier, "Heart Healthy" foods at the grocery store rarely limit sodium. Low sodium chicken stock has only 24% of the RDA as opposed to over 40% for regular chicken stock.

    Many of the food companies say that they need it for preservation purposes or because their customers demand it. I think both are canards really and that salt like sugar and fat is addictive. Over thousands of years our bodies have recognized the three substances as relatively rare and gladly over consume them. Now that they're common and cheap the food industry takes advantage of that.
     
  6. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #6
    The UK does seem to demonstrate the point Bloomberg is making (and I'm glad to see him making it). These kind of public health interventions really work when there is a coordinated effort that changes the availability of food. Very few people succeed at changing their diet, because they're told to, in the absence of changing food options.

    Hopefully Bloomberg's move will trickle down to the rest of the US, and the packaged food vendors and others who are getting on board with this will make these options available in small town and big city USA outside of NYC.
     
  7. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #7
    This quote reminds of the ripple effect things like CA car emissions standards had on the industry. All it takes sometimes is one state's regulations to impact the whole country.


    Lethal
     
  8. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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  9. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #9
    There are additives other than salt to add flavour to food.
     
  10. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #10
    I agree there is way to much salt in what we eat. If you have to go on a very low sodium diet your food choices are very limited and a lot of what there is out there taste like crap because no one bothers trying to make it taste better. They cover up the poor taste with more salt.

    I know one guy who if he consumes more than 250mg of sodium in a day he will be very dizzy and can not do anything but lay down. (Yes it is a medical condition and he told me how things have changed as it has gotten worse. He has gone from being able to eat salt like everyone out there to not be able to talk much of it as all)
     
  11. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #11
    ^^ 250 mg! :eek: Getting under 2000mg was very difficult, I thought, with an active lifestyle that included being at work long hours, going out socially, etc. I cannot imagine.

    You'd be surprised, honestly. I mean, you can't exist without salt. It's tasty for a reason. But when I was not only cooking more food at home, but carefully monitoring the salt in it, I was quite surprised how tasty food could be without so much salt.

    Furthermore, your -- our -- taste for salt is probably... toleranced -- by how much we consume. If you back down slowly, you probably wouldn't even notice it.
     
  12. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #12
    I agree. People often use salt when spices, especially good ones—the chili powder from the grocery store doesn't count—would add just as much flavor to a dish.

    Certainly salt is an important additive for food, but I've got a whole cupboard full of varying spices, so I use salt less.
     
  13. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #13
    Not the same way that salt does. Salt is a flavor enhancer rather than base flavor - you can bring out the seasoning that have already been applied through the judicious use of salt in the cooking process (adding during cooking goes further than adding at consumption).

    The failure has long been on the overuse of salt in prepared foods to reduce the cost of flavoring or seasoning. A voluntary effort to reduce salt is good and mandatory convenient disclosure is better, but mandated reductions is bad - there are several elements of cuisine that merit or necessitate the inclusion of "high" quantities of salt.
     
  14. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #14
    @nbs2 -- FWIW, the Bloomberg plan is voluntary and not legislatory. But also, it's a weighted average across the menu / whatever. Of course, some foods taste really good with an obnoxious amount of salt. And most healthy individuals can have a little extra salt, once in a while. The problem is more that, if the recommended daily allowance of salt is 2000mg or even 2500mg, it's very hard to go in many restaurants and find a dinner meal that has less than 1500mg of sodium in it -- and many of them have 2000 or more. I would be happy with low sodium options and sodium on the menu.

    Actually, I don't think there's anything wrong with the chilli powder in most stores -- it just can't be used in isolation. My mamma made all manner of excellent Indian spicy dishes using the chilli powder from Meijer's. :D
     
  15. IntheNet macrumors regular

    IntheNet

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    #15
    Any government intervention, be it local, state, or federal, in the food preparation business generally yields a restriction upon the free choice of citizens; in this case customers of restaurants. Secondly, these type of unilateral actions by government tend to pass on unfunded mandates; food prep companies would likely have to pass on enormous cost increases to local restauranteers for low sodium food, since most prepackaged food comes with standard salt volumes added. Moreover, public health experts frequently change their findings on what they advocate and what they castigate and the final choice, on sodium volumes, should be left up to the consumer, rather than the city, in this area. Good eating establishments tend to respond to public demand so let's leave sodium levels at the choice of the consumer rather than... the Mayor!

    I am sure Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's time could be better used in controlling the city's debt, as opposed to monitoring restaurant sodium, in 2010.
     
  16. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #16
    The current proposal does sound good, I guess it's just a bit of fear as to where popular current might take it (calls for high taxation on salt make me uncomfortable). I see a large difference between trans fats and cigarettes, neither of which has any beneficial uses that I am aware of, and salt, which does.

    Mine went to Safeway (or the Indian store), but amen.
     
  17. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #17
    I think it would be great if restaurants and food packaging companies would voluntarily cut way back on salt and sodium in their foods, but I'd rather not see legislation forcing it.

    I've been asked by my doctor to limit my salt intake, and I almost never put it on my food, ever in my life, but shopping for anything at the grocery store (frozen and canned foods, in particular) is very difficult if you're watching your sodium intake.

    I've been a huge fan of Mrs. Dash for a long time. No, it doesn't taste like salt, but I actually prefer it to salt in almost every case.
     
  18. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #18
    Absolutely. Salt is not a requirement for tasty food. Salt also tends to overpower other flavors, or enhance some of them to the point where the rest of the flavors lose their distinction.

    That has been the silver lining of less salt use. This year I'm doubling the space in my garden that's devoted to herbs. There's nothing better than fresh herbs on food.


    I wish I could remember where I read it, but recently I came across this quote in a cooking blog:

    "Salt is for people who don't know how to cook."

    I think there's a lot of truth there. We've forgotten how to cook and use salt to make up for our ignorance. I would like to see mandatory reductions in the use of salt in food marketed to children as well as anything that claims to be "Heart Healthy". There also needs to be a tax on excessively salt foods. Hypertension costs the American health system billions upon billions of dollars every year. If we're serious about cutting costs, then we need to tackle the biggest offenders.

    Can you name "the "several elements of cuisine that merit or necessitate the inclusion of "high" quantities of salt?"

    Why?
     
  19. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #19
    What about anything with Soy Sauce in it? And Chips?
     
  20. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #20
    Not sure which of my statements you're asking about, but I'll try to answer both:

    I would like for restaurants and food packaging companies to cut back on salt and sodium because (1) it would make it easier for me to choose foods that my doctors would be happy with, and (2) I don't particularly care for the taste of salt, anyway. If I want to add it, it tastes the same if I add it or if it's cooked into the food.

    I would rather not see legislation forcing it because not everyone is on a sodium-restricted diet, and IMO the government has enough to worry about without butting their heads into what chefs and processors decide to cook and sell. As long as there's no deception about how much salt/sodium is included in food for sale, I'd rather not see government intervention; I'd rather just let individuals decide for themselves.
     
  21. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #21

    Because we really don't need govt. ****ing with our cheesy poofs.
     
  22. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #22
    My problem with this is that there is no choice (except not eating out / eating very few packaged foods). When I've been to restaurants (a very few) that label their sodium, everything is pretty high in sodium. The one Subway sandwich discussed in the article might meet NYC's requirements, but in a meal with chips, it still contains rather a lot of sodium (although, I do have to give credit to Subway -- they have great nutritional information available, and I feel very able to make an informed decision there from that perspective; also, I learned a lot about how to make sandwiches less salt-laden from reading through their in-depth information on condiments, toppings, and bread).

    Similarly, when I was on that diet, at the time I really had a thing for cinammon raisin bread, and I would eat it for breakfast frequently. There was a range of sodium levels that generally went from bad to worse -- about 100-250 mg per slice. There was one brand (I think, Sara Lee) thad had 60 mg/slice, and honestly, it tasted as good as most of the other brands. But then the store stopped stocking it, and I was SOL.

    All I'm saying there, is that the perception that there is choice in the market, in this specific context of sodium, is illusory.
     
  23. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #23
    Soy sauce and chips are far from haute cuisine. If anything your tongue in cheek response only underlines the idea that cheap food is filled with salt. Sure, even I like slumming once in awhile but cheap food is marketed to the poor. In other words, if you're poor, the food manfs. have a right to stuff you with non-nutritious, salty, sugary, fatty food.

    However, excessive sodium has no health benefits at all. The whole point of salt is that individuals bodies are trained to want salt because of its historical rarity. When given a choice, people will choose saltier food. Period. Why should food manufacturers be given the right to worsen people's health? We collectively pay for it in the end.

    Umm, give me a poof coated in brie!
     
  24. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    Yeah, except for the people who don't choose saltier food. I've been wishing for decades that someone will make a low-salt soy sauce, as opposed to reduced salt. I don't add salt to anything I cook. I add it to water when I boil pasta because it raises the temperature of the boiling water and results in pasta that's less gummy. I usually add some to guacamole when I make it myself. Otherwise I prefer not to use it at all.
     
  25. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #25
    On a side note I had no idea why salt was added to boiling water for pasta, I always just did it. :D
     

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