Food Safety: Salt
Article by Core Moreton, writing in the Independent on Sunday, on Sunday, 26 March 2006
"Salt killed Christian Blewitt. The three-year-old boy was found unconscious in his bedroom and spent four days in a coma before doctors switched his life-support machine off. They had never seen anyone with so much sodium in their body. The question is how it got there.
The answer, according to a jury, was spoonful by sickening spoonful, forced into Christian's mouth by his foster parents. Ian and Angela Gay were found guilty of manslaughter, for making him eat up to four teaspoonfuls of salt as a punishment for being naughty at the dinner table.
The Gays deny it. They brought what they say is new evidence to the Court of Appeal last week, even as the Government and health campaigners were arguing about how much salt should be allowed in food. The Food Standards Agency announced new limits for a range of products, but they were far less strict than expected. The FSA had caved in to pressure from the food companies, it was claimed, and thousands of people would go on being ill and dying as a result of having too much salt in their diet."
I do not believe the Gays fed the salt to little Christian. - Nor do I believe the convoluted explanation offered by the Defence Counsel:
"Michael Mansfield QC told the Court of Appeal there was no evidence Christian had been forced to eat the salt. The case was at the "frontiers of science", he said. And he called Dr Glyn Walters, a retired chemical pathologist, who believes there is a way the salt inside Christian could have built up naturally.
Normally, excess salt is excreted through the kidneys and the urine. But there is a very rare condition in which the brain malfunctions and the osmostats - which are like thermostats but regulate sodium concentration - reset themselves too high. Cases are extremely rare, said Dr Walters, but they do happen. The crown prosecutor argued against a retrial because he said there was nothing new in the evidence at all, as the science behind it had been known for years. The appeal judges have not said when a decision might be expected."
I believe the most likely source of the excess salt in Christian's body was the saline solution that was administered to him in the hospital. - See here:
What puzzles me is that it is reported here http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hereford/worcs/4039993.stm that: "He died in December 2002 of brain injuries and salt poisoning.
Susan Caynak was working as a sister at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, West Midlands, when the toddler arrived.
She told the jury: "His eyes were half closed, half open. He was unresponsive and initially, at that point, I thought he was dead."
Sister Caynak said an abnormal urine test was recorded and that Christian was administered saline through a syringe. ""
If Christian was ill because of salt excess, WHY ON EARTH WAS SALINE ADMINISTERED TO HIM BY SYRINGE? - THIS COULD ONLY COMPOUND THE PROBLEM, SURELY? - And was this saline measured and taken into account as having contributed to the excess of salt in his body?
I believe that saline solution is too readily - and often, as in this case, most ill-advisedly - administered to people in hospital. - I do not, of course, believe or imply that it was administered with any intention of harming the little boy. - It surprises me that this administration of saline solution (i.e. salt water) into the child's veins does not appear to have been investigated. - From my own extensive and painful past and continuing personal experience I know that excess salt/sodium is stored in the blood vessels - the veins.
Apart from the tragedy of the little boy's death and the miscarriage of justice which sent the Gays to prison for 15 months, if you click on the link near the top of this post and read the article in the Independent on Sunday you will note that the Food Standards Agency put the interests of the food companies ahead of the health of the nation which is, one would have thought, the reason for having a Food Standards Agency!