Monday, December 10, 2007


An analysis of a number of studies reported in the Lancet Chronic Diseases Series revealed that reducing salt intake around the world by 15 per cent could prevent almost nine million deaths between 2006 and 2015 in 23 low- and middle-income countries. Having a genetic sensitivity to salt, I have a great deal of experience trying to obtain food that is salt-free or very low salt. I once was hospitalized because personnel at a New York restaurant assured me that they didn’t cook with salt. They did—a lot of it. Usually I can tell if a dish contains salt but with certain entrees with adornments, it is hard to tell.
While I was researching A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, I asked a scientist at a major food company why, when you leave out an additive such as salt, the product costs more? He explained: “We’ll, we have to stop the line with the regular product in order to keep from adding an ingredient and that is expensive.”
I don’t know whether that is true but I do know that restaurant personnel often say a dish will have “no salt” added but figure if you are a tourist, you won’t come back to complain.
As far as the supermarket, there are terms on packages that may be misleading. For example "unsalted", "processed without salt" or "no salt added" may signify that the producer didn't put any additional salt in during processing but the food may still be naturally high in sodium. For example, a low sodium soy sauce has 390 mg of sodium per teaspoon (and who can use only a teaspoon of soy sauce on a dish) and a popular tomato-vegetable drink with "no salt added" has 90 milligrams per 4.5 fluid ounces. Salt can also be listed under dozens of "sodium" designations such as monosodium glutamate and sodium caseinate adding additional salt to your diet. Sugar labeling, like salt, can be deceptive. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved labeling signifies “low sodium” as being 140 mg or less and “very low sodium” to be 35 mg.
ConAgra, a major American producer of packaged foods and meats, recently reported it has removed nearly three million pounds of sodium from a range of products without affecting taste. The firm said it will continue to look at ways of cutting down salt, and said it has already managed to remove up to 20 per cent from many of its popular lines. Exact details of what the firm has used as a replacement to sodium in its range of foods - which includes Kid Cuisine, Chef Boyardee and Marie Callender - have not yet been released. ConAgra also reveals it is working on a proprietary sodium technology that can cut 30 per cent of sodium in popcorn.
Salt is a vital nutrient and is necessary for the body to function, but campaigners for salt reduction, such as the Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) consider the average daily salt consumption in the western world, between 10 and 12g, far too high. Medical and consumer organizations want (FDA) to strengthen labeling and to change salt's current status from "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) to being controlled as a food additive.
Two sites you may want to check: and

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