Salt Institute Commends Congress on Wait-and-See Approach for Low-Salt School Lunches

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Scrutiny should spread to all federal attempts to put Americans on risky low-salt diets that could be hazardous to public health

We should not subject our schoolchildren or any of our citizens to what amounts to a giant lab experiment.

In light of recent medical studies quantifying the health risks of low-salt diets, the Salt Institute commends congressional legislation that would require further study before schools are forced to slash salt from lunches, potentially harming children.

Salt Institute President Lori Roman says the problem goes beyond school cafeterias to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines on sodium, which aim to put virtually all Americans, not just schoolchildren, on a diet so low in salt it has never been seen in any country.

“We should not subject our schoolchildren or any of our citizens to what amounts to a giant lab experiment," said Roman. "There are negative health consequences of a low-salt diet. For many children, a school lunch is their main meal of the day. They simply need salt, an essential nutrient recent medical studies associate with longer life, less heart disease and lower cholesterol, among other health benefits.”

“Also, salt makes healthy food taste better. Did federal bureaucrats really believe kids would eat broccoli or spinach without salt?”

A congressional spending bill introduced this week would modify the requirements for school lunches that the Agriculture Department proposed earlier this year. The bill also requires further study on the USDA’s sodium reduction guidelines. Both the House and the Senate are expected to vote on the bill soon.

The Salt Institute says the USDA and other federal agencies should take the same wait-and-see approach for the general population. In October, the Salt Institute delivered a 17-page letter asking federal agencies to abandon the sodium provisions in the government’s U.S. Dietary Guidelines because the process has been compromised by conflicts of interest and a disregard for peer-reviewed scientific studies.

That request has not been heeded. In fact, federal agencies are requesting online comments from Americans by Nov. 29 under the title “Approaches to Reducing Sodium Consumption,” as if the science was settled on salt.

The Salt Institute has created a short video featuring its Vice President of Science and Research Morton Satin, “The Salt Guru,” who explains what's at stake. A social media campaign on Salt Health Facebook shows how citizens can make an official online comment to a government agency in less than 5 minutes.

Ironically, this apparent anti-salt push is occurring during a year in which no less than half a dozen medical studies have been published quantifying negative effects of low-salt diets.

Just last week, a meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Hypertension confirmed what the Salt Institute has been warning for years: Low-sodium diets trigger a negative chain reaction in the body that increases the risk of diabetes, stroke, heart attack and heart disease.

The evidence questioning the government’s outdated conventional wisdom on salt is so compelling that Scientific American, the most authoritative publication explaining science for a broad audience, declared in the headline of an in-depth article this year that, “It’s time to end the war on salt.”

ABOUT THE SALT INSTITUTE: Based in Alexandria, VA, the Salt Institute is a trade association promoting responsible uses of salt, particularly for roadway safety, nutrition and water quality. See http://www.saltinstitute.org or call 703-549-4648.

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Mark O'Keefe, communications director
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