William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Put Down That Salt!

Salt PoliceThis is an appropriate day to repost a classic article, especially given this story in the Daily Mail with the headline “The town that’s banned salt.” And don’t forget our “Mandatory National Standards For Salt Content Coming To A Government Near You.”

Sometime soon…

“Hold it right there, buddy! Drop that salt and raise them hands. Slowly, now. One grain of that sodium falls into that soup and you’re in a lot of trouble.” Sergeant Grimwald of the FDA Food Patrol’s eyes were riveted on the illegal shaker.

“It’s down,” said the diner. “Now would you mind putting away that gun?”

“Don’t you worry about the gun. It won’t kill you, anyway. The bullets are covered with organically grown rubber.”

The diner shrugged. “Just who are you anyway?”

“Grimwald: FDA. I was eating here undercover—we had reports this place was a salt den. I had a feeling about you when you walked in. Something about you ain’t right.” A look of pride replaced the tense grimace on his face. “I got you right before you were able to shake!”

“You do realize that there’s nothing but salt in there,” said the diner, pointing to the shaker, which was clear glass in the shape of a finger.

“Ha! What do you think I got you on!”

“I haven’t the slightest idea.”

“Say,” Sergeant Grimwald moved closer, nearly sniffing the air. “You some kind of foreigner or something? What’s the accent of yours?”

“I’m from Texas.”

“Well, la! We got rules in this country, buddy. You might not know it, but salt’s illegal in restaurants here.”

“Is this some kind of joke?” The Texan smiled to his dining mates, expecting them to smile back and reveal the prank. However, they stayed seated and looked confused, even a little fearful.

Grimwald holstered his weapon. “Ignorance ain’t no excuse, though. I still got you.”

The Texan, brazen as they come, picked the shaker back up and said, “You’re telling me this is illegal?”

The Sergeant’s hand moved to his hip, but he didn’t draw his weapon. His perp was a foreigner and he wasn’t sure any violence would look good on his record. He said, “Everybody knows that salt leads to high blood pressure.”

“It might. But so might the stress of having a gun pointed at your face. Anyway, it isn’t that likely that salt will actually cause hypertension. It can exacerbate it—in some cases.”

Grimwald bristled. “Don’t you try and tell me the law! I used to teach salt training. The FDA has determined that each adult gets 1,500 milligrams of salt a day. If you would have tipped some of that salt out of the shaker, you would have exceed the mandated daily allowance.”

“You’re saying that I,” said the Texan, pointing to himself (he was a very large man), “should have the same amount of salt as my wife?” He gestured to another of the diners at his table, a diminutive woman.

“Rules are rules, pal. It’s 1,500 milligrams to everybody. More is certain death. Maybe they don’t teach it down there in Tex-us, but up here we know that salt causes high blood pressure. And high blood pressure causes kidney disease or stroke. And them lead right to the morgue.”

“Nonsense. Who came up with this number, anyway?”

Grimwald hiked his pants, looking prouder than before. “Why, the Government, of course.”

“Then the ‘government'”, the Texan used finger quotes around the word, “doesn’t know what it’s doing.”

The crowd, which had been half-listening before, quieted instantly. Most turned their faces to their plates, pretending they hadn’t heard. A man who had been coming out of the bathroom stayed inside.

To Sergeant Grimwald, it was as if somebody had suddenly thrust him into a vacuum. There was no air in his lungs; his collar choked him. He worked his jaw muscles but he was unable to supply himself with any words.

“Besides,” continued the Texan, “If I want more salt, I’ll take it. If I suffer from it, that’s my problem, not yours.”

This was too much. “You don’t get to decide what’s good for you! O–bama, man! If everybody did that…” The thought of the ensuing chaos caused if people were allowed to make their own decisions so horrified him that once more he was robbed of words.

Grimwald snatched the shaker from the table with a pair of tongs he produced from his jacket, and he dropped the shaker into an evidence bag. He sealed it and signed across the seal.

The routine work restored his equanimity. He said, “Well, you’re not from here, so you don’t know what you’re saying. But you’ll get this: there’s an even better reason than all them others not to eat salt.”

“Oh? What’s that?”

“Too much salt in your blood makes it hard to process you into soylent green.”

51 Comments

  1. Turns out that in Obamastan then I’d likely die. I have a complicated medical condition whereby I actually need about 3000mg salt per day to survive. But that’s ok, since some lazy, Twinkie(r)-eatin, morbidly-obese Welfare-mommy will be limited to her 1500mg and survive.

    Maybe I can petition the Salt Czar, who heads up the Ministry of We’re-smarter-than-you, to purchase a trade from the salt exchange, much like the carbon exchange that’s they’re trying to create.

    Ron

  2. Well well,

    here we have another American who thinks that when a medical insurance system is becoming obligatory, some of his god-given rights are being taken away. My Gawd ! While we over here in Europe find such a nation-wide medical insurance system a basic necessity of life, and agreed long ago upon its sanity.

    Sheesh. How backward can you be ?

  3. It’s not because of obligatory health insurance that they’re considering the salt ban (although some arguments may justify it as such), it is a health concern. Salt is clearly unhealthy when used to excess (or insufficiently either). For example, if you eat nothing but salt, you will die. Likewise if you get 0 sodium, you will die. But the other attributions of salt causing or contributing this or that health disorder are not clear causation, just correlations. And as Briggs is fond of pointing out, we could reasonably correlate any two things we had data on and sufficient determination to correlate.

    However, there are already some major cities and even the FDA looking into instituting a ban or other limitation on salt added to food in restaurants and with the FDA involved it will probably go on to effect all processed foods at least.

    Briggs’ story is humorous, but not too far from the situation the We-know-better-than-you people want to bring into existence.

    I do think we Americans generally eat too much salt, but isn’t that our business? If we care, shouldn’t we patronize restaurants that serve lower sodium foods, buy processed foods with no salt added, or even better: buy fresh foods and prepare them ourselves? Do we have to force everything all the time by rule of law?

  4. Expect something like this to happen for real in fascist police states like Bloomberg’s New York City.

  5. The salt war has been going on for years and the benefit of reducing your input is still being argued. See old article here http://www.junkscience.com/news/apsalt.html .

  6. Wait… soylent green is people?

  7. OregonGuy,

    Great find! Reminds me of an old tasteless joke…

    Q: What’s the hardest thing about eating vegetables?

    A: Digesting the wheelchair.

    I think you might also need more than 1,500 mg of salt…

    I know I’m going to hell. I’ve made my peace with that. 😉

  8. J.C. Peregrinus

    Well, you also were the people, led like sheep into two world wars, a socialist system that ravaged your resurces, nearly destroyed all your country’s economies and resulted in a EU that sets policy without you (people) having any vote. yeah, and they call us backward for wanting to determine what’s right or wrong for us. Isn’t the form of government you live under called DEMOCRACY, you know that system modelled after the US DEMOCRACY? Or maybe you’re a fan of the old socialist system.

  9. Are there any life choices that individuals make for themselves (or previously did at least) that don’t have an impact on one’s health? That is the beauty of government health care in the minds of the progressive…it is a pandora’s box. If government is going to pay for your health care, then surely you must expect that they are going to have a say in your lifestyle choices as they pertain to your health. So regulating your salt intake is just the start…next you will not have the choice to smoke or drink either. Of course driving and flying are dangers to the public health, not just due to car/plane crashes, but also those nasty CO2 molecules. So when they fail to ram through cap and tax, they will just add a “health tax” to gasoline and to airplane tickets. There is no limit to what the government can ban (or tax into oblivion) in the name of the collective health, if it suits their objectives. Maybe someday the naive idealistic sheeple of this country will realize that freedom means letting people make bad decisions for themselves, and holding them accountable for the consequences.

  10. Are you upset about the lack of transfats in your diet? Or have you transitioned with hardly a backward glance, pretty much unaware of any difference? All the while having forgotten how big of a deal that was to you at the time.

    Here’s a more accurate story:

    “Here’s your soup, sir. Will there be anything else?” said the waiter

    Jim, “everything looks fine.”

    Jim takes his spoon and downs the first taste, “Egads man! A bit lacking I say. Waiter….”

    “May I get you something?”

    “You could bring back a salt lick for sure, as this soup is deficient.”

    “Absolutely”, the waiter takes leave and returns with a tray loaded with containers of sea salt, Kosher salt, kosher sea salt, potassium salt, and even the blue box with that umbrella girl on it regular iodized NaCl, “Here you go. Do any of these fit your needs?”

    “My good man, with such an arsonel of halogens at your disposal, why didn’t you just add some to this broth in the first place”, Jim ponders outloud.

    The waiter explains, “You see sir, while many people fancy the briny flavors, there are those among us who can not tolerate such pleasures. In fact, a right many people inadvertently partake in quantities of the common spice at levels which could be harmful to them.”

    Jim is a little frustrated, “Well hold on now sir. Are you implying that I can’t hold my own salt? I’ll have you know I require loads of the stuff to maintain balance as a result of my postural tachycardia syndrome”

    Waiter acknowledges, “I wouldn’t presume sir. There are those who are unaware that for most people 1500-2500mg per day has been shown to fall in a safe and sustaining range. This appears to not be the case with you.”

    Jim perplexed,”Indeed, I was unaware of my sodium needs untill last month when I was informed by my GP.
    Why don’t you just stay below 1500mg?”

    Waiter, “Ah but we cannot in good conscience serve a 1500mg meal to someone when we have no way of knowing if that could be potentially toxic or have long term effects. They could have already exceeded those levels before they arrived.”

    Jim feeling clever,” but you just offered me enough salt to cure and preserve an entire swine herd. If I ate all that I might just keel over right here and now.”

    Waiter, “But you asked for it specifically and had you not brought up the topic of ‘why don’t we use more in our preparation’, I would have been content to watch you consume the entire tray without saying a word.”

    Jim, “So what you are saying is, so long as I ask for it, or am informed of the situation then you have no problem potentially killing me.”

    Waiter, “On the contrary, I welcome your repeated business and have enjoyed our conversation. I however would not be at liberty to deny you any condiment, as you are paying for the privilege. And neither of us can be completely sure of just how much of a thing could be too much for you, on this afternoon.”

    Jim, “Why don’t you just disclose how much salt you add to the meals”

    Waiter, “It has been considered, however our menu is not necessarily static, and our chef is renowned for his ‘on the fly’ artistic culinary skills. So we could never be too certain if any numbers we supplied would be accurate. To complicate things, listing 500mg of sodium by the French Onion Soup may mean a great deal to you, but a brief optional survey of our aptrons last month suggested that a large percentage of our customers could not place a value on that information, a smaller percentage were unaware that by sodium we actually meant table salt, and yet another percentage though if they subtracted 500mg from their target daily goal of 2000mg, the answer was ‘yellow’.”

    Jim, “Well people like that probably shouldn’t be eating at restaurants anyway.”

    Waiter, “That may be true, but we can easily accommodate their mis or lack of understanding in this matter. Especially when ‘people like that’ pay our overhead, and my salary.
    Feel free to add as much or as little of any of the 5 options I brought out to any food you order.”

  11. I miss lard.

    Remember when you could get your fries fried in good old fashioned animal fat?

    Pig fat was phased out in the ’80s because it was bad for our cholesterol. It was replaced with vegetable shortening — trans-fat — which is bad for our cholesterol. It doesn’t matter that my blood lipids are in the ‘healthy range.’ Bad for one is bad for all. It seems like a never ending treadmill of heart-healthy fads.

  12. From Wiki:

    Salt’s ability to preserve food was a foundation of civilization. It eliminated the dependence on the seasonal availability of food and it allowed travel over long distances. It was also a desirable food seasoning. However, salt was difficult to obtain, and so it was a highly valued trade item, which followed the pull of economics along salt roads such as the via Salaria in Italy, some of which had been established in the Bronze age. Until the twentieth century, salt was one of the prime movers of national economies and wars.

    From http://salt.org.il/econ.html

    The salt monopolies established during the previous inundation, at the turn of the millennium, such as the Gabelle [fr]/gabellum [latin]/quabala [arabic]/gavia [hebrew] were the basis for a ‘relatively’ ordered but still authoritarian Medieval history. They were administered by the monks and their Royal siblings. The customs and salt tax ‘limes’ delineating the local inland salt monopoly became the future frontier lines of today’s ‘sovereign’ states. It also led to the misunderstanding that a government monopoly in certain public sectors is efficient and for ‘our own’ good.

    —–

    Personally, I am hording salt. I plan to sell it on the black market for enormous profits, and use those to outfit my own army. Then I will establish a new empire based entirely on a salt monopoly. Bow down, you lowly salt lickers. Your new Emperor is walking amongst you, with an armed guard.

  13. Briggs

    April 20, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    You win, john. I accept that you are not intelligent enough to choose your own meals.

  14. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh darn it people like me.
    I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh darn it people like me.
    I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh darn it people like me.

    Nope, didn’t work. I have to go cry in a dark corner now. Thanks.

  15. Ban the use of salt in restaurant? This sounds silly. I have learned that when something sounds absurd, it’s probably not believable. There must be more to the story. Well, whoever proposed it has succeeded in getting people to think about their salt consumption.

    Doug M,
    A dab of lard and a spoonful of soy sauce on a bowl of hot white rice… my favorite when I was a kid. Yum!

    john,
    Just want you to know, tears are salty. If you knew already, please forgive me. I didn’t meant to say that you are not intelligent enough. ^_^

  16. Briggs

    April 20, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    JH,

    Actually, it was proposed by the ex Health Commissioner in NYC. Same guy who convinced Mayor Bloomberg to ban transfats.

    Yes, ban. As in outlaw, made illegal.

    People were judged not intelligent enough to make their own choice about this particular foodstuff. It worked for that, so they figure it’ll work for salt next.

  17. You’ve stirred up my curiosity, and I need to know if I am wrong. Here is the NYC government propaganda of the The National Salt Reduction Initiative.

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/cardio/cardio-salt-nsri-faq.pdf

    What is the National Salt Reduction Initiative?
    The National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI) is a partnership that includes 17 national health
    organizations and 26 cities, states and related entities. The City of New York is coordinating the effort. The members are working with food manufacturers and the restaurant industry to lower the salt levels in commonly consumed products. The goal is to reduce Americans’ salt intake by at least 20% over five years.

    Will the NSRI affect nutrition labeling?
    No. The NSRI is a voluntary initiative, not a regulatory measure…

    Is this what you are talking about? If yes, note that it’s not mandated by the government. Of course, when it comes to policy making, slippery slope arguments addressing to what a policy might lead should also be considered.

  18. Briggs,

    Six months ago our press here in Canada was spreading the same “fear du jour” about sodium. Of course, due to our natural inbred insecurity, we had to be told (citing dubious sources) that we were consuming more sodium per capita (whatever that means) than most other countries including the U.S. (it helps our insecurity when we do more of something or better at something than the U.S.) I’m quite certain that they were including the rock salt that we put on our roads during winter when they came up with the number. If the decision were put in the hands of our loony left, your scenario would not be far off reality here.

    But on this topic, what are your thoughts about Libertarian Paternalism? (Libertarian Paternalism Is Not An Oxymoron, Sunstein & Thaler, University of Chicago Law Review http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=405940 ).

    In Canada, our country was formed by an act of the state and our founding principles are Peace, Order and Good Government. We’ve already seen what the loony left would do, but our right would take a more Libertarian Paternalistic view; i.e. sodium in excessive quantities is a potential health risk, in the interest of good government what actions should we take so that citizens can make informed decisions or just opt out. In the extreme cases, can you or should default people to the “safest” position and require them to exercise their right in order to opt out?

  19. Briggs

    April 20, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    JH,

    Close. But, no. This is a new effort by the FDA itself, seeking to regulate how salt will go into all foods.

    Steve E,

    That link appears broken.

    Ah—it was taking the end parenthesis as part of the link. I edited your comment to add a space. Thanks.

  20. Steve E I lost two days sleep in Edmonton once’t due to toooo much MSG. If they care to ban something that’s the trick

  21. Walter Sobchak

    April 20, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Can’t Happen Here?

    Too much salt: Report urges FDA to force rollback
    By LAURAN NEERGAARD
    The Associated Press
    Tuesday, April 20, 2010; 5:23 PM

    WASHINGTON — Too much salt is hidden in Americans’ food, and regulators plan to work with manufacturers to cut back – but the government isn’t ready to go along with a major new recommendation that it order a decrease.

    “We believe we can achieve some substantial voluntary reductions,” Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “We are shaping a strategy, and that strategy involves working in partnership.”

    On Tuesday, the prestigious Institute of Medicine said the food industry has made little progress in voluntarily reducing sodium. The advisers urged the FDA to set maximum sodium levels for different foods in a stepwise rollback, so that eventually average consumption would drop by about half a teaspoon.

    “This needs to be a mandatory standard,” said Dr. Jane E. Henney of the University of Cincinnati, a former FDA commissioner who headed the IOM’s study. Because salt is so “ubiquitous, having one or two in the industry make strong attempts at this doesn’t give us that even playing field over time. It’s not sustainable.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/20/AR2010042001757_pf.html

  22. dorf,

    you said “I lost two days sleep in Edmonton…”

    Ahh Edmonton, I spent a week there one day….;p

  23. dorf or Steve E. How does one tell if they lose time or sleep in Edmonton? Does the wind die out?

  24. The issue of transfats is interesting and illuminating in this context.

    We start with a situation in which, circa 1900. there are only ordinary, refined but unprocessed, vegetable oils. Someone invents hydrogenation. It becomes widespread, and pretty soon you cannot buy cooking oil, except maybe in health food stores, or olive oil, that is not hydrogenated. Then we have a mass market campaign to eliminate beef suet and lard from our diets, and replace them with hydrogenated vegetable oils.

    Pretty soon its in all prepared foods, from pastry and bread to chocolate. It does not have to be labelled as such, so you have no way of knowing how much you’re ingesting.

    Now, is this is a situation which the apostles of liberty are comfortable with? They say, you don’t like it, don’t buy it.

    What if 90% of the market for oils and fats is owned by 3 or 4 companies, and that’s all they make? What if every restaurant in town uses their oils, and what else is there, and they don’t label their ingredients either?

    What if you cannot buy any prepared foods which do not have high salt levels?

    Government is a threat to our freedoms, no question, but so are large corporations. What is actually needed is a system of… checks and balances ….! In the case of salt, probably what we need is for salt over a certain level to be treated as an adulterant. After all, anyone for who its not salty enough can always add it, but it cannot be removed.

    It is of course ridiculous to prohibit the provision of salt in restaurants, its not only an infringement of liberty, its also going to be totally ineffective in reducing population salt intake, even if that is a good thing.

    But the idea that we do not have to worry about what ingredients go into prepared foods at a social level is also absurd.

    We do not, any longer, take the view that if you don’t like the effects of tobacco, don’t smoke. We recognize that banning smoking in public places, and banning tobacco advertising, is not, or is not just, an infringement of individual liberties. There are three questions here, one being, what our liberties are, the second being what threat the government poses to them, and the third being what threat the makers of Marlborough poses to them.

  25. On tobacco advertizing, why is it that the anti-tobacco crowd can advertize on TV? But the tobacconists can’t. Actually, the tobacco producres are required to pay for adds that say ‘don’t use our product.’ It just doesn’t seem fair.

    I think we will get a turnaround in policy, when the govenrment concludes that it costs less to take care of a smoker in his dying years than a non-smoker.

  26. Mike D

    Good on ya. When the time comes, how’s about trading some of your salt for some of my light bulbs. Maybe we could find someone that hoards real full-flush toilets and full-flow showerheads. Hey, maybe there’s a business in all of this somewhere.

  27. You remind me of the classic (1978!) F. Paul Wilson story, Lipidleggin’.
    http://www.billstclair.com/DoingFreedom/000623/df.0600.fa.lipidleggin.html

  28. Funny post, and probably realistic. However, speaking as one who lost a kidney to cancer ( no problems since then), and as one of those obese senior citizens soon to be subjected to the Obama death panels, I have to closely watch my sodium intake and blood pressure.

    Hypertension kills kidneys, and I need to keep my one and only healthy. Salt exacerbates the blood pressure problem, and the salt content in processed foods makes my low sodium diet difficult to maintain.

    When I do the grocery shopping, I try to buy “low sodium”, or “no salt added” canned foods, and I have to pay a premium. Frozen dinners are really bad choices for me. For example, I was interested in the Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls until I looked at the package and learned that it contained over 1700 grams of sodium. There go my convenient meals.

    I agree that the US Government has no business telling me what to eat, or how to season my food. That is just plain wrong!

    The food industry is starting to recognize that there is a market for lower sodium foods, For example, the Weight Watchers brand of frozen meals are lower in sodium content than others. Many of the major processors of canned vegetables are offering lower sodium alternatives, albeit at increased prices. So, there is some hope for non-government solutions.

    Until the food industry and the American public get smarter about sodium content, I will just have to eat my own cooking.

  29. @bob –

    While I can understand your need to maintain a “low” sodium diet, please be aware that others (not many in America, thankfully) need to maintain a “high” sodium diet. I take a medication that consumes sodium – it doesn’t eat it, but it does chemically or biologically (or magically – I’m no chemist or bio-chemist, I ARE A ENGINNER). Because of this, I’m constantly having my blood tested for sodium levels and told to “Eat more salt.” A consistently low sodium level (below 125 somethings/something – not sure of the units but it comes with your standard blood chemistry tests) will cause bad IMMEDIATE side effects (nausea and vomiting, confusion, lethargy, headache and seizures – maybe death as well).

    Because of the hysteria around high-sodium levels, manufacturers tend to sway to public opinion, making my diet more difficult to obtain than you would expect. You should see what I have to eat to get that extra salt WITHOUT getting too many extra calories. There are healthy things (tomato juice, which I happen to like) and unhealthy things (Cheetos, which I also happen to like). I’m not eating that Jimmy Dean thing, though it’s likely yummy.

    That said, I agree with your comment – the government does not have the RIGHT to tell me what I can and can’t eat. It might have the right to tell companies operating across state lines what they can and can’t sell.

  30. The War on Salt is just another way to spend federal dollars. We needed a new war, especially since the War on Terror is so last week. How soon before a non-profits for a Salt-Free America turn up (of course they will have to apply for federal funding)? Dare to keep your kids off Salt. Watch out Butter, you’re next.

  31. Mr Briggs:
    “Actually, it was proposed by the ex Health Commissioner in NYC. Same guy who convinced Mayor Bloomberg to ban transfats. ”

    Bloomberg is from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. So he dont need no commissioner to tell him to ban transfats! 🙂

  32. Telling manufacturers and prepared food businesses that adding large amounts of sodium to foods is irresponsible is a far cry from “OMG the government is telling me what I can eat and won’t let me add salt to my food.”

    As for people who medically need higher than normal sodium levels, I don’t find it difficult to add salt to things before I eat them or cook them.

    bob, stop with the death panel crap. It’s bunk and you know it. You might as well toss in a link to an online ‘authentic pdf scan of Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate” while you are at it.

  33. I agree with john. FDA plans to limit the amount of sodium used in most processed foods, which is quite different from banning the use of it. Although I don’t know how it’s going to affect the manufacture of delicious ham and pickles, I like the idea of reducing the level of salt in processed food since I can then freely add more salt, the kind of salt I like.
    I’ll keep an open mind until the plan is actually published.

  34. Briggs

    April 21, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    But my dear JH, “limiting the amount” is equivalent to “banning more than X.” A ban is a ban.

  35. Yes, my dear Briggs, I see what you are saying. Oh my… a ban on cigarette smoking on airplanes doesn’t mean what thought it meant! I’ll blame it on the way my Chinese brain processes English then.

  36. Yes, my dear Briggs, I see what you are saying. Oh my… a ban on cigarette smoking on airplanes doesn’t mean what I thought it meant! I’ll blame it on the way my Chinese brain processes English then.

  37. The government (at least in Tennessee) has banned the use of texting while driving, which will of course lead to the banning of cellphones entirely, and once they get a taste of that telecommunication powergrab, they’ll certainly ban other phone services.

    The government has limited, i mean age restricted, i mean banned 5 year olds from watching NC-17 movies in theaters. So of course we’re only months away from no one being able to watch movies on our home televisions. (and let’s not even get into how a movie might have been unjustly rated in the first place)

    The government has limited advertising of alcohol to specific time slots and programs, i mean banned advertising of alcohol during programs targeted at minors, paving the way to no advertising anywhere at any time.

    Not one of these is more of an overstatement than has been suggested by the OP.

  38. There obviously needs to be SOME government regulation of SOME things.
    We can’t have companies selling chalk powder and telling the consumers it is their diabetes medicine.

    There obviously should not be absolute regulation of everything.
    We don’t need Bob Corker in our bedroom with a machinegun ready to shoot us if we roll over and sleep on our stomach.

    There is a huge area between these 2 states and it is extremely subjective, but arguing a more limited state of regulation with nonsequiters and strawmen?

  39. Briggs

    April 21, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    JH,

    Banning ordinary folk from possessing nuclear weapons is prudent. Banning—or limiting—salt because some DC hand-wringer worries that it might be bad for somebody is clearly ridiculous.

    Government bans on smoking in airplanes is not needed. Airlines would have—as overseas carriers do—self ban it because customers do not tolerate it. But there could just as easily have been “Cigar Flights”—take a trip to Vegas with our fine selection of cigars, sponsored by CAO. Why ban that?

  40. Not to split hairs, but there is an actual defined lethal dose for salt. While it may seem excessive, 1000 mg kg-1 is the defined human acute lethal dose.

    That means a 100 pound person, not an uncommon weight for a teenager or young female, could potentially die from rapidly ingesting 2.5 tablespoons of salt and would almost certainly, without medical attention or vomiting, die from ingesting 5 tablespoons one after the other.

    This is of course an unpalatable dose to be spoonfed in a single sitting, but when the acute lethal dose is the same as 3 of the family size lasagnas in my freezer, before I ‘add salt to taste’ there are definitely going to be some long term effects if I eat one of those per day. (which I could, although I’d have to up the definition of lethal dose to 3.25 tablespoons since I’m 60 kilo rather than 45).
    Just by eating half of one of those lasagnas, which is tempting, I’ve exceeded the daily recommended sodium intake by 100%.
    By eating 2 single serving banquet chicken pot pies you have met your reccomended daily intake. Ever tried to eat ONE of those for dinner? You can’t do it because it’s not enough.

    There is clearly some room for regulation. It is easy enough to add more salt to meet your own desires.

    As for airplanes, with as much government bailout and support as the airlines get you are kidding yourself if you don’t consider it public transportation.

  41. Mr. Briggs,

    My point is that lowering the level of sodium (mainly in salt) in some of the manufactured food is clearly not the same as saying banning more use of salt by consumers. A ban on cigarette smoking on airplanes, regardless of who imposes it, is quite different from placing a limit on it.

    You know, lower sodium level might just encourage me to consume more processed food. Perhaps the manufacturers would welcome it.

    One is free to take the slippery slope to the extreme, which, in my opinion, requires quite a bit of imagination instead of reasoning skills. And such tactics are what hand-wingers use.

    I don’t think it’s ridiculous for FDA to worry about citizens’ health risks. Isn’t that part of their job? Whether the final plan of FDA is ridiculous is yet to be seen.

  42. JH,

    It is not the FDAs job to worry about citizens health risks. It is their job to see that food and drugs are safe and properly labeled.

  43. Thanks, Doug M.

    We know that worry doesn’t solve a problem, and it’s not helpful to worry about what could happen sometimes. ^_^

    Let’s make sure we have it right!
    http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Basics/ucm192695.htm

  44. Ron: “I’m no chemist or bio-chemist, I ARE A ENGINNER)”

    I suffer from the same affliction. It is interesting that with a couple of courses in CISCO networking, you, too, can become an engineer even though you can’t spell the word! Good luck on that salt thing. I know a young student with a similar problem, so I am sure it exists.

    John: “bob, stop with the death panel crap. It’s bunk and you know it. You might as well toss in a link to an online ‘authentic pdf scan of Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate” while you are at it.”

    Sorry, John. I didn’t mean to get you off topic. The fact remains that Obamacare is in part paid for by cutting $500 Billion from Medicare in the next decade. This will cause significant reductions in the available health related services for seniors, and will inevitably lead to rationing. Decisions will be made on who gets what service. In the case of Medicare recipients, you are simply denying reality to assume that there will NOT be death panels.

    As far as Obama’s birth certificate, I don’t understand the furor from either side in the issue. I take the government at its word that Obama is a citizen, but, being critical of those who question the government’s word on the authenticity of Obama’s citizenship is silly, too. Why should anyone take the government’s word on anything? Recent polls show that about 76% of citizens do not trust the government. Maybe you should join the crowd before the death panels catch up to you.

  45. “While we over here in Europe find such a nation-wide medical insurance system a basic necessity of life”

    Golly, if only I had known.

  46. I’m inclined to take that story with a pinch of, er, salt.

  47. john,

    Not to split hairs, but there is an actual defined lethal dose for water as well.. Everything is poisonous at some level, including oxygen. Should we ban oxygen or water in eating establishments because at some level they become fatal ingredients?

    … but when the acute lethal dose is the same as 3 of the family size lasagnas in my freezer, before I ‘add salt to taste’ there are definitely going to be some long term effects if I eat one of those per day.

    Try eating 3 family-sized lasagnas in one sitting. The volume alone would likely kill you by stomach rupture. As for long term effects, are you aware that the body simply excretes excess salt and that death from salt overdose is not due to excessive blood pressure, which is what sodium is supposed to induce in the first place?

    Mike D.,

    Indeed. The Roman army was paid by salary (salt allotment).

  48. ooooooo ….. number 50.

  49. Daily Mail Again!?

    Number 51? I am looking forward to be more than half a century old.

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