Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Implication of salt on human health has been adequately documented and it is now universally agreed that there is an urgent need to evolve policies to curtail salt consumption to absolute minimum. Consumption of salt at home is not easily quantifiable and restrictive policy on its use by the organized industry can be the only tool available for food safety authorities world over. The collective strength of food industry can be expected to be deployed to resist such attempts as evidenced by the behavior of some of the major players in the food sector as reported recently.

"But the industry is working overtly and behind the scenes to fend off these attacks, using a shifting set of tactics that have defeated similar efforts for 30 years, records and interviews show. Industry insiders call the strategy "delay and divert" and say companies have a powerful incentive to fight back: they crave salt as a low-cost way to create tastes and textures. Doing without it risks losing customers, and replacing it with more expensive ingredients risks losing profits. When health advocates first petitioned the federal government to regulate salt in 1978, food companies sponsored research aimed at casting doubt on the link between salt and hypertension. Two decades later, when federal officials tried to cut the salt in products labeled "healthy," companies argued that foods already low in sugar and fat would not sell with less salt".

A company like Cargill promoting liberal consumption of salt is worthy of condemnation knowing pretty well that they are swimming against the scientific and public opinion. The powerful tool they possess in the form of enormous resources to mold public opinion through publicity blitz and misleading campaigns is being misused to confuse the consumers and continue to persist with their "profit at any cost" corporate objectives. The intolerance to even the mild restriction being proposed to curtail salt in limited products labeled "healthy" is evident from their aggressive response to the suggestion. There appears to be no option to the food safety authorities but to enforce mandatory limitations on this uncaring industry.


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