Salt on Trial

| 11/30/2007 12:00:00 AM

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The FDA held a public hearing yesterday to debate limiting salt content in food. Per Reuters, health advocates called for restricted salt content and better labeling, arguing that it could save thousands of lives each year.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) estimates that reducing sodium consumption by half in the United States would save about 150,000 lives and $1.5 trillion in medical costs over 20 years. 

While the recommended upper limit for salt intake is 2,300 milligrams per day, most Americans eat closer to 4,000 milligrams of sodium every day, according to the American Medical Association (AMA), which testified at yesterday's hearing. In 2006, the AMA issued a recommendation to limit the amount of salt added to processed foods, recommending a 50 percent reduction to be achieved over a period of 10 years.

Manufacturers and industry trade groups favored voluntary decreases in salt, though since many European countries have been imposing stricter salt limits for food, products offered overseas often contain less salt than their American counterparts. For example, an order of McDonald's Chicken McNuggets in the United States contains more than twice as much sodium as the United Kingdom version, according to CSPI.

For more on the health dangers associated with high salt intake, see Avoid Salt to Reduce Blood Pressure.

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