Tuesday, April 20, 2010

No Salt For You!

Well, at least no 'prepackaged salt' or a good deal less than we presently have, in at least some foods if this FDA initiative actually comes to fruition:

From the WAPO story:

The Food and Drug Administration is planning an unprecedented effort to gradually reduce the salt consumed each day by Americans, saying that less sodium in everything from soup to nuts would prevent thousands of deaths from hypertension and heart disease. The initiative, to be launched this year, would eventually lead to the first legal limits on the amount of salt allowed in food products.

Wherein, the boiling frog method will be used, for our betterment:

Officials have not determined the salt limits. In a complicated undertaking, the FDA would analyze the salt in spaghetti sauces, breads and thousands of other products that make up the $600 billion food and beverage market, sources said. Working with food manufacturers, the government would set limits for salt in these categories, designed to gradually ratchet down sodium consumption. The changes would be calibrated so that consumers barely notice the modification.

Coupled with legal enforcement:

The legal limits would be open to public comment, but administration officials do not think they need additional authority from Congress.

"This is a 10-year program," one source said. "This is not rolling off a log. We're talking about a comprehensive phase-down of a widely used ingredient. We're talking about embedded tastes in a whole generation of people."

The FDA, which regulates most processed foods, would be joined in the effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees meat and poultry.

So, I had images of the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld. Hence the post title:

Which, of course leads us to ask the big questions:

Who is the analog of the soup Nazi, what does he have control over, and who do the obsequious and fearful customers represent?

Answers? Soup Nazi has to be the FDA and the Dept. Ag., he has control over sodium credits, and the customers are the prepared food manufacturers, restaurants, and those that supply them the sodium they use.

Oh, and lest I forget, the article comes with this nifty pie graph:

Which leads one to ponder more big questions: Given that we have a natural taste for salt, and salt is biologically vital, what will be the end result of this vast complex of studies and regulation, should it in fact fully develop?

I can only go on anecdotal evidence, i.e., asking myself what the heck I would do, but, here's a stab at an answer.
My name is Shaun. I am a salt-a-holic. I love to inundate my stir-fry with soy sauce, not that pansy-ass low sodium stuff either, but the dark brown dead sea strength stuff you can watch eclipses through. Additionally, I find that the salt levels in my prepared food is never adequate. So, I liberally apply granular sodium chloride when I find that non-stir-fried foods do not fit my taste.

Now, I fully admit that this taste of mine may be the result of nefarious social engineering by the demon conspirators of the gustatory/industrial complex, and that I may very well have developed a taste for low sodium foods had I been exposed to them, back in the heyday of prepared foods (the 60s and 70s, during my impressionable youth) but somehow I doubt this.
I ask you: Were the Romans victim to ancient gustatory/industrial social engineering? No. Did they crave salt? Hell yes. They were paid in salt, by Jove! In fact, this practice was common in the ancient world. We humans naturally crave salt, and goodly amounts of it! We crave it so much we use it as money. What more needs to be said?

So, I humbly submit my prediction of what will happen when this extension of the nanny state is instituted.

1. Stocks in salt companies, such as Morton's will increase in value.

2. The 77% "food processing" portion of the pie graph will shrink to some lower amount, perhaps in the 20% to 40% range.

3. (At least in my case) the %5 "added during cooking", and 6% "added at table" sections of the pie graph will increase to exactly compensate or overshoot the amount by which the "food processing" part of the graph has shrunk, thus..

Exactly accomplishing nothing other than adding to the sum total of research and enforcement personnel already in the employ of Uncle Sam.

Exit with gratuitous Star Trek reference: Behold the Salt Vampire. "Man Trap":

Tuesday Blues: Big Bill Broonzy, Hey Hey