Though it was later than expected, the Colbert Report took on the FDA's look into asking companies to reduce the salt in foods. Then again, a comedy show has a smart take on this issue.
Stephen Colbert had a few amusing takes to set up the interview. Colbert talked about the FDA wanting to take away salt from his "Fatty Salty Crispies" and "Crispy Salty Fatties" along with "Twice Baked Frosting Fries" in the Crispy Chocoberry Cheddar flavor "now with more frosting." Parody is rich — in flavor.
Then again, why do you need parody when Red Lobster's Admiral's Feast has 7,106 mg of sodium, three times the recommend 2,300 mg for regular people and more than 4.5 times as much as the 1,500 mg for those suffering from health-related issues. I'd take my chances with the Twice Baked Frosting Fries.
Colbert brought in Lori Roman, president of the Salt Institute & Michael Jacobson, head of the CSPI, or Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Colbert mentioned in a previous article that Roman felt "the science regarding sodium is unclear" and points out in the interview that "the myth comes from the food police and it does come from what you would call 'truthiness,' which is what they base their facts on. Some of these facts just have no basis in science."
Unfortunately, for Roman and the Salt Institute, she never backs that up with one specific claim.
Jacobson points out the level of concern from numerous organizations including the American medical Association, World Health Organization, Department of Health and Human Services, and of course, his own organization. "Too much salt causes high blood pressure, causes heart attacks and strokes."
Roman hits on the "food police" theme one more time. "I think the (food) police are maybe practicing a little police brutality this time because unlike some of the products they targeted in the past, you need salt to live. You can not survive without it."
Jacobson notes that "industry has been determining how much salt is in our foods. 2-3 times as much salt in one meal as you should have in an entire day."
Roman came across as cheerful but didn't have anything substantial to say. Jacobson came across like he usually does, and had quite a bit to say.
The point is not to eliminate salt from foods, as Roman noted when she gave Colbert a I <3 NY salt shaker: "when Mayor Bloomberg and the FDA are done, you're going to have to smuggle that like another white powder." Reducing salt to reasonable levels is not a horrible concept.
This isn't about the food police, and yes, we need salt. But let's have a conversation about what is too much. There is a lot of history where salt acted in lieu of refrigeration. But now, salt is being used by the food industry as a way to get us to eat more food, and getting a proper amount of salt without going over, even by a little bit, is really difficult.
Good to see Colbert start a conversation on how much salt is too much. But we need more talking, especially by those who think the government is trying to be the "food police." How do you want to get the food industry to reduce sodium levels.