Reclassify Salt?

The medical community (who are they, exactly?) is asking the FDA to reclassify salt. Right now, salt is considered GRAS – Generally Recognized as Safe. The new classification would make it a food additive tied to limitations.

Why, you ask?

It turns out the medical community is tired of treating our excessive-salt related illnesses. They consider excessive salt intake to be a public health hazard and want the government to force limitations of it.

Lest we forget: salt is essential for humans. We’ll die if we don’t have some in our diet. But like a lot of other essential nutrients, too much is poison. That skittish happy medium is once again in the spotlight.

The medical community is focusing on processed foods, which of course, makes me want to jump up and down in joy. The food industry has known for decades that they put a dangerous amount of salt in the processed food, but they’ve done very little about fixing it. Because after all, processed foods taste perfectly horrid if they aren’t loaded up with salt and/or sugar. Nobody would buy the stuff if they had to eat it with a sensible amount of salt.

Wait, let me repeat that. Nobody would buy the stuff if they had to eat it with a sensible amount of salt.

Can we all say “D’oh!”?

Government regulations can force the industry to lower the amount of sodium in their food products. But they will want us to buy these products, so they’ll have to do something to help the taste. I shudder to imagine what they might come up with.

We’re in bad shape on this, too, because salt is addictive. We have three or four generations that have grown up on this heavily salted diet of processed foods. If that’s what you’ve eaten for most of your life, you’re going to have a hard time learning to like Real Food. Cutting back on salt is like quitting smoking.

Most people have no idea what Real Food is supposed to taste like. And when they’re forced to eat processed food that is low in sodium, they HATE it. The good news is that, like quitting smoking, it gets easier over time. If you start eating Real Food, your mouth gradually forgets the overly salted taste of the fake stuff and you begin to actually TASTE the food you’re eating. Stick with it for a year or two and you’re probably home free. I know when I try to eat processed food, I’m not usually successful. I can’t stand the taste of the stuff, whether it’s a can of Campbell’s soup or a frozen meal from Lean Cuisine.

So we’ll see what happens. The food industry is fighting the doctors' recommendation and the food industry has a lot of money. I’m not going to place any bets on what the FDA will decide. In the long run, it doesn’t matter. Like I said earlier, the food industry will have to put something in the food to make it palatable and that something will probably not be good for us. The answer is to stop buying and eating processed foods.

That’s always the answer.

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