Ramin Talaie/Getty Images
London Mayor Boris Johnson with a salt bomb, commonly known as a New York soft pretzel, during a September 2009 visit to New York City.
London Mayor Boris Johnson with a salt bomb, commonly known as a New York soft pretzel, during a September 2009 visit to New York City. Ramin Talaie/Getty Images
Over consumption of dietary salt is a contributor to high blood which causes strokes and other health problems.
So the New York City Health Department, which leads the National Salt Reduction Initiative, has proposed limits for packaged foods and restaurant meals to reduce the amount of salt people consume.
This can't be good news for providers of some of New York's signature foods, from salt pretzels to corned beef, pizza and hotdogs. By the way, one large soft pretzel has about 2,007 mg of salt, significantly more than the 1,500 mg daily maximum recommended for black adults who are at special risk for high blood pressure and and almost totaling the 2,300 mg daily maximum for everyone else.
From the NYC Health Department's press release:
Only 11% of the sodium in Americans' diets comes from their own saltshakers; nearly 80% is added to foods before they are sold. Through a year of technical consultation with food industry leaders, the National Salt Reduction Initiative has developed specific targets to help companies reduce the salt levels in 61 categories of packaged food and 25 classes of restaurant food. Some popular products already meet these targets — a clear indication that food companies can substantially lower sodium levels while still offering foods that consumers enjoy...
... The goal of the initiative is to cut the salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25% over five years — an achievement that would reduce the nation's salt intake by 20% and prevent many thousands of premature deaths. The sodium in salt is a major contributor to high blood pressure, which in turn causes heart attack and stroke, the nation's leading causes of preventable death. These conditions cause 23,000 deaths in New York City alone each year — more than 800,000 nationwide — and cost Americans billions in healthcare expenses.
"Consumers can always add salt to food, but they can't take it out," said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. "At current levels, the salt in our diets poses health risks for people with normal blood pressure, and it's even riskier for the 1.5 million New Yorkers with high blood pressure. If we can reduce the sodium levels in packaged and restaurant foods, we will give consumers more choice about the amount of salt they eat, and reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke in the process."