Tag: salt

De Gustibus This, Alleged Center for Supposed Science

USA TODAY carries a long, multiple source story, “Buyers’ tastes make dashing salt for health not so easy,” building on last week’s report from the Institute of Medicine calling on the federal government to force manufacturers and restaurants to reduce the amount of salt in food.

In an April 21st post, we wrote:

With the war on salt gaining in activity, expect to see many news reports cite the Center for Science in the Public Interest as some sort of disinterested observer, “scientists” working on important issues. Reporters who do so are misleading the public about the group’s agenda, which correlates closely to the agenda of the trial lawyers.

From the USA TODAY story:

“Salt is the single most harmful element in our food supply, silently killing about 100,000 people each year,” says Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest. “That’s like a crowded jetliner crashing every single day. But the food industry has fended off government action for more than three decades.”

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You There! Drop that Salt Shaker!

Washington Examiner, Gene Healey, “The coming low-sodium dystopia

In a 1997 Cato study criticizing trial lawyers’ efforts to hold tobacco companies liable for the choices of individual smokers, my colleague Bob Levy closed by deploying the much-derided “slippery slope” argument.

“What’s next?” he asked-raising the specter of an American nanny state devoted to protecting us from soft drinks, red meat, and fast foods. More than a decade later, Levy’s nightmare looks pretty plausible.

Gene, a vice president at Cato, mentions the great science fiction movies “Bladerunner” and “Fahrenheit 451″ in his previews of dystopia.

How could he have missed “Demolition Man?

UPDATE (11:15 a.m.): L.A. Times,  ”Happy Meal toys could be banned in Santa Clara County“:

Convinced that Happy Meals and other food promotions aimed at children could make kids fat as well as happy, county officials in Silicon Valley are poised to outlaw the little toys that often come with high-calorie offerings.

It will have to be in the sequel: “Toy Story V: The Purge”

(Hat tip: Rob at SayAnythingBlog, which has a nice new look.)

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When the FDA Gets Its Way

From the restaurant scene in the ’90s flick about a peaceful, soporific, yet corrupt Los Angeles in the year 2034, “Demolition Man“:

LAPD Sergeant John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone): “You got the salt over there, Bob?”

Officer Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock): “Salt is not good for you, hence it is illegal.”

Soundfile.

Walter Olson at Overlawyered has reaction to recent reports about the Food and Drug Administration’s plans to regulate salt content in food, including a well-justified knock on the FDA’s non-denial denial. From “Salt Reactions“:

The report in the Washington Post that the Food and Drug Administration intends to work toward mandatory limits on salt in processed food provoked some negative public reaction, and now the agency has issued a public statement not exactly denying the story, but complaining that it “leaves a mistaken impression that the FDA has begun the process of regulating the amount of sodium in foods. The FDA is not currently working on regulations nor has it made a decision to regulate sodium content in foods at this time.” Emphasis added to point out the cagey phrasings: there is no denial that the agency’s leadership intends to do all these things in the future, exactly as the Post reported.

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Making the Lawsuits More Tasty

The Washington Post’s story Tuesday breaking the news about the FDA’s scheme to reduce salt content in food through regulation quoted one of the most radical we-know-better-than-you groups out there, the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which first petitioned the FDA to regulate sodium in 1978, said voluntary efforts by industry are laudable, “but they could change their minds tomorrow. . . . Limiting sodium might be the single most important thing the FDA can to do to promote health.”

This context would have been helpful to the reader. From a Center for Science in the Public Interest news release, July 23, 2009, ”Unsafe Sodium Levels at Denny’s Prompt Class Action Lawsuit“:

WASHINGTON—Most Denny’s meals are dangerously high in sodium, putting the restaurant chain’s customers at greater risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, according to a class action lawsuit filed today by a New Jersey man with the support of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The lawsuit was filed in Superior Court of New Jersey in Middlesex County, and seeks to compel Denny’s to disclose on menus the amount of sodium in each of its meals and to place a notice on its menus warning about high sodium levels. CSPI is working with the New Jersey firms of Galex Wolf, LLC and Williams Cuker Berezofsky. 

Big surprise. Trial lawyers are trolling for cash.

Galex Wolf’s website is here. Williams Cuker Berezofsky’s site is here.

Here’s a good report of the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s activities over the years from ActivistCash.com.

With the war on salt gaining in activity, expect to see many news reports cite the Center for Science in the Public Interest as some sort of disinterested observer, “scientists” working on important issues. Reporters who do so are misleading the public about the group’s agenda, which correlates closely to the agenda of the trial lawyers.

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The Consumption Protection Salt Intake Act

The Washington Post reports, “Fast action to limit salt in processed foods pushed by Sen. Harkin, Rep. DeLauro“:

Two members of Congress urged the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday to move quickly to limit the amount of salt in processed foods, calling the matter a “public health crisis” that demanded a swift response from government.

“I understand they want to do it in a phased kind of a deal, but I don’t want it to be too long,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “This is crying out for change that’s long overdue.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) agreed, saying in a conference call with Harkin and reporters: “I don’t want this to take 10 years. . . . This is a public health crisis.”

Millions of American of Americans work in the food industry, and it’s disheartening to see members of Congress immediately jump on a regulatory scheme that could have a huge impact on those jobs.

And just because you call it a crisis, doesn’t make it one.

Frankly, we’re surprised the members of Congress didn’t vow tough legislation to crack down on those nefarious salt merchants. Maybe one of the lawmakers who want to control more of Americans’ lives will introduce the bill, the Consumption Protection Salt Intake Act. We know how well the last CPSIA worked out.

Earlier: “From the Latin: We’re Going to Regulate Every Aspect of Life

UPDATE (3:40 p.m.): Ramesh Ponnuru comments at WashingtonPost.com, Right Matters:

This strikes me as outrageous. Leave aside the irresponsibility of demanding immediate action when the FDA has not yet solved the many practical problems its ambitions require it to solve. The deeper problem is one of principle. There may be things that government can reasonably do to reduce the number of people who suffer from hypertension. Trying to force changes to every American’s diet isn’t one of them. Congress should change the law to block the FDA.

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From the Latin: We’re Going to Regulate Every Aspect of Life

Washington Post, “FDA plans to limit amount of salt allowed in processed foods for health reasons“:

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.

Food manufacturers are undertaking serious, voluntary efforts to reduce the salt content in their products.

Voluntary? Hah!

“We can’t just rely on the individual to do something,” says Cheryl Anderson, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Here’s an idea. Salt is one of the most important commodities and even currencies in the history of man. The word “salary” comes from the Latin “salarium,” meaning money paid to soldiers to buy salt.

So, why not just wrap salt regulation in under the financial regulation bill in the Senate? As John Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute argues, the financial regulation bill defines large (non-banking) sectors of the economy as banks in order to regulate them. If you sell salt or use it in your products, you’re a bank!

In other salt-related news, Mark Kurlansky, author of Salt, has a new book out, “Eastern Stars,” about the great baseball players from San Pedro, the Dominican Republic. He speaks Wednesday evening at the DC bookstore, Politics & Prose. Salt is a very entertaining, commodity-oriented history of the world. We were hoping Zinc was next.

UPDATE (10:10 a.m.): Walter Olson comments at Overlawyered.com:

We’ve been warning of such developments for a while, and they come as little surprise given President Obama’s pick of hyper-regulator Margaret Hamburg as FDA commissioner.

P.S. Perhaps we should invite comment from the New York Times journalist who sternly admonished an interview subject recently: “You shouldn’t trivialize issues of health and safety by calling them nanny issues.”

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