What's the best way to piss off a whole lot of people? Apparently, threaten to reduce the amount of salt in their food.
An article in this week's Washington Post reported that the Food and Drug Administration launched an initiative to get food companies to regulate the amount of sodium in packaged foods. Immediately, people all over the Internet -- including here at The Stir -- began angrily protesting salt regulation. And even when the FDA denied the Post's report a day later, the rage kept on coming. Hell hath no fury like a salt-deprived nation.
Seriously, people, I have to ask: Would government regulation of the sodium content of packaged foods really be that bad?
The current levels of sodium in our food are deadly, leading to alarming rates of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in the United States. Voluntary efforts by the food industry to reduce sodium intake have failed -- and it's no wonder: There's absolutely zero incentive for food companies to reduce salt, especially when their competitors are offering brands with higher salt content.
As long as food companies continue to be held unaccountable for the amounts of sodium in their food, we'll have to make do with the unhealthy products lining the shelves of our grocery store. To me, that's unacceptable. Don't we want better food for ourselves and our families?
Some have suggested consumer education in place of regulation. And, yes, education is powerful; educated consumers can make healthy choices for themselves. But many of us are educated about these issues. The problem is: There are no choices!
The way I see it, we can either consider all options -- including government regulation -- to improve our health, reduce obesity, and save lives, or we can wait for a cute celebrity chef from England to come over and do it for us. Stop importing our food revolution and let's bring it about it ourselves! (And no disrespect to Jamie Oliver -- I adore him!)
And, at the end of the day, if you absolutely can't live without salt, then why not invest in a good salt shaker? That way if low-salt foods aren't to your taste, then you can adjust it yourself. The government can't regulate how much salt individuals voluntarily add to their low-salt foods in the privacy of their own home.
So go ahead, salt it up! But don't blame the rest of us for wanting our government to help us be healthy.