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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Lindsey Davies, new president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, is calling for urgent action to reduce salt and transfat content in food

See Denis Campbell's article in the Guardian. It's good that Lindsey Davies is speaking so unambiguously. "The food industry should be about producing food, and food is a basic requirement of a healthy, productive life and wellbeing. Adding things to food that reduce health and wellbeing, such as transfats or too much salt, strikes me as profoundly irresponsible," is clear. The powers that be should have been saying this long ago. The dangers of high sodium intake have long been known but not acted upon.

Both Labour and Tory administrations allowed the food companies free rein to ladle more and more salt into their products, thus damaging irrevocably the health of innocent salt-sensitive purchasers. Let's look at what successive governments with their successive Department of Health personnel have done about recommendations made in regard to salt, high consumption of which is the cause of a huge proportion of the ill-health and disability of the nation:

The Department of Health's Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA) was disbanded in March 2000.

The following information was taken on July 11th 2006 from http://www.actiononsalt.org.uk/recommendations.htm but since then appears to have been removed from the internet. I find it surprising that such interesting information has been removed. It's a good job I copied and pasted it when I did. The website itself http://www.actiononsalt.org.uk/ is still on the internet.

Recommendations made about salt


1 Nutritional Aspects of Cardiovascular Disease 1994 This COMA report considered the evidence for a causal relationship between the consumption of sodium and both the level of blood pressure and the rise in blood pressure with age. A statement in the report said it recommended: "A reduction in the average intake of common salt (sodium chloride) by the adult population from the current level of about 9g/day to about 6g/day. There needs to be a gradual reduction in the amount of sodium from salt added to processed food and food manufacturers, caterers, and individuals should explore and grasp the opportunity for reducing the sodium content of foods and meals." The Chief Medical Officer at that time, accepted all the recommendations in this COMA report except for the recommendation to reduce salt. The reason for this is not clear but is believed to be pressure from industry. Department of Health (1994), "Nutritional Aspects of Cardiovascular Disease", HMSO, London.

2 Dietary Reference Values 1991 This COMA report considered that: "Current sodium intakes are needlessly high and we caution against any trend towards increased intakes". It set its recommended intake for salt, as with all the other recommended intakes for nutrients, on the basis of the balance of risks and benefits, which might practically be expected to occur. The RNI for a particular population group is defined as the amount of the nutrient that is enough or more than enough for about 97% of the people in this group. The Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for sodium for adults was set at 1600 mg/day. This is equivalent to approximately 4g of salt, if all the sodium was present in the diet as sodium chloride. This is considerably less than the present intake of 9-12g. Department of Health (1991), "Dietary Reference values for food, energy and nutrients for the United Kingdom", HMSO, London."

I wonder why The Chief Medical Officer in the early '90s apparently did nothing to implement the recommendation of a maximum of 4g of salt a day, and apparently gave greater consideration to the desires of the food industry than to the health of the nation, and I wonder how many deaths and how much terrible suffering he was, therefore, personally responsible for? And I wonder why his successors in the post were so tardy in taking effective steps to give warnings about salt consumption? - Political considerations? - What though, could be more important in this matter than the health of the members of public - the electorate - the tax-payers, in fact?

I consider the failure to put pressure on food manufacturers and caterers to reduce the sodium content of foods and meals until recent times to be a dereliction of duty of successive political administrations and health departments. - I remember buying McCance and Widdowson's 'Composition of Foods' in the late '90s, at considerable cost, in order to discover how much sodium there was in food. There was no way consumers could get this information from the pack. - The people of this country have been very ill-served in this matter.

See sodium in food.

Obesity and the Salt Connection.

Groups vulnerable to salt.

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