Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

If you don’t want FDA to control salt, how do you want to solve the problem?

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Understandably, people are freaking out over the prospects of the Food and Drug Administration controlling the amount of salt in processed food and restaurant meals. It’s the classic “I don’t want the government to interfere in my right to eat as much salt as I want.”

Well, there are a few problems with this scenario. The FDA is only considering the idea. And they aren’t likely to go nearly as far as many will fear. And no one will ever stop you for consuming as much salt as humanly possible.

Politically, the right thinks the FDA shouldn’t be going after salt. The left wants the FDA to go after high-fructose corn syrup before salt. Whatever you think the government’s role should be in this manner, we already have the problem.

If you don’t want the government to solve the issue, then ask yourself what should we do.

“Government control” becomes the boogeyman. And they mean “federal government control.” If states wanted to regulate salt consumption, theoretically that would be OK but they would likely come up with a reason why that would be bad as well.

So the argument comes up with “let the free market decide.” Clearly, in terms of salt in these foods, the free market concept is prevalent.

But those people who fought so hard against health care reform are pretty much the same ones saying “No government control over salt.”

From a health standpoint, some of us can’t afford to wait until they sort out their contradictions.

We eat about 1½ teaspoons of salt per day, more than double what we need. We’re not getting that from the salt shaker at home; we buy the products in the store and eat out in restaurants.

We eat Double Down sandwiches, not knowing/realizing/caring about the sodium level.

High blood pressure is rampant, and leads to much more expensive medical issues.

Putting pressure on food companies is a good place to start, but even as an assembled group, we don’t have the power that, say, government does to make a difference. And if you say “avoid all processed food and restaurant meals,” ask yourself how realistic this is.

Denying the problem exists sounds charming, but the problem doesn’t actually disappear.

Even liberals might freak out over government controls on salt. But at least they acknowledge that there is a problem and they are offering a solution. Conservatives, can you rise up to the challenge?

We get upset when there is lead in the drinking water or asbestos in our walls. We believe in some basic concept that the government should work to make us safe. We can disagree over what that role should be, but all people should be working toward a solution.

Health care costs rise because people ingest too much of something that they shouldn’t. We can’t stop someone who wants to ingest as much salt as they can, but we should make it more difficult. Right now, it’s too easy.

(For more, check out my expanded take on my food/nutrition blog,


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