City Goes After Salt in Food, So Far on a “Voluntary” Basis


The city is introducing “voluntary” guidelines on the amount of salt to be included in processed and packaged foods.

These guidelines, which call for sodium content to be reduced by as much as 25 percent, would not as yet have the force of law but, as the New York Times describes the city’s viewpoint, “companies that complied would benefit from good publicity” that would presumably come from making mass-produced chips less flavorful in deference to one powerful local government.

The city already encourages citizens to reduce salt intake, claiming high-salt diets “cause 23,000 deaths in New York City alone each year.” As you would expect, the National Salt Institute laments this “false notion that there is sufficient evidence to connect salt consumption with cardiovascular disease.” And some maverick medicos insist that the problem is not salt but refined salt.

City Health Commissioner Tom Farley says he “can’t guarantee it will work, but I’m very excited about it.” The Neighborhood Retail Alliance is less enthused: “Here’s an administration that cries like a stuck pig when it comes to a living wage mandate for developers — but hasn’t a single compunction when it comes to telling fast food chains and food manufacturers what they should put in their food and on their menu boards.”

The Wall Street Journal notes that big food marketers are already working to reduce sodium, with mixed results. While Orville Redenbacher was able to cut salt by 30 percent by using smaller salt particles that produced “saltiness with less salt,” some tests suggest that consumers react badly to the news that their favorite products have had their salt content reduced even when they actually haven’t.

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