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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The slow poisoning of Americans

With salt under attack for its ill effects on the nation’s health, the food giant Cargill kicked off a campaign last November to spread its own message.
“Salt is a pretty amazing compound,” Alton Brown, a Food Network star, gushes in a Cargill video called Salt 101. “So make sure you have plenty of salt in your kitchen at all times.”
The campaign by Cargill, which both produces and uses salt, promotes salt as “life enhancing” and suggests sprinkling it on foods as varied as chocolate cookies, fresh fruit, ice cream and even coffee. “You might be surprised,” Mr. Brown says, “by what foods are enhanced by its briny kiss.”
By all appearances, this is a moment of reckoning for salt. High blood pressure is rising among adults and children. Government health experts estimate that deep cuts in salt consumption could save 150,000 lives a year.
Since processed foods account for most of the salt in the American diet, national health officials, Mayor Bloomberg of New York and  Michelle Obama are urging food companies to greatly reduce their use of salt. Last month, the Institute of Medecine went further, urging the government to force companies to do so. 
.The food industry is predictably fighting back    They can lower the salt content of processed foods but this would mean higher costs in using different solutions for flavoring and for preservatives.  When the link between salt and hypertension was first used by health advocates to regulate salt in 1978 the industry pushed back by denying the link.   

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