Americans eat too much salt.
In fact, we eat on average about a third more than the government recommends. We eat so much, in fact, that we are putting ourselves at risk of all sorts of health problems — high blood pressure and stroke, for instance.
Some might mistakenly believe that they are OK because they don’t add salt to their food. But that doesn’t matter for most of us because the foods we eat are already filled with salt.
Restaurants and food manufacturers use sodium for a number of purposes — especially as a preservative or a taste enhancer.
And use it they do, so much so that the Food and Drug Administration is considering asking companies to hold much of the salt for the good of the consumers.
This action would leave the decision up to the companies. Whether they follow through with the government’s request would be voluntary. But it clearly makes sense.
Americans have a great deal of health issues that are of their own doing.
Poor diet, lack of exercise and too much drinking and smoking take their toll on us. We suffer the effects of our decisions and habits.
In the case of salt, though, it is incredibly hard to avoid because of commonly accepted practices throughout the various food industries.
It is those practices the FDA is hoping to change so we can all enjoy diets that don’t needlessly risk our health.
This is vastly different from other government actions that have arguably infringed on the principle of personal choice.
Banning sweet drinks of certain sizes, for instance, is an overstep of governmental control.
Merely working with industry to change our foods for the better is a different matter entirely.
Individual consumers, of course, would still be free to pour on the salt if they so desired. But those who would rather avoid unhealthy levels of sodium would be much more able to do so.
“We believe we can make a big impact working with the industry to bring sodium levels down, because the current level of consumption really is higher than it should be for health,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.
The FDA must walk a fine line between those who would prefer no action and those who favor action requiring industry changes. Working on a voluntary cutback seems to be the most sensible way to balance our freedoms with our health.
From the New Bern Sun Journal