Salt Industry Pushes Back Against Controls and Limits

salt in diet companies fight back ingredients photo

Salt in a so-called "healthy choice" meal; New York Times graphic

Nobody is going to argue with the fact that salt makes food taste better; One reason fast food tastes so good is that yummy combo of too much fat and salt. Everyone from Michelle Obama to Michael Bloomberg are trying to get us to eat less of it, so the salt industry is pushing back, hard. According to Michael Moss in the New York Times, they are using a strategy of "delay and divert" because "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."

They are right; take out the salt and most of their products taste like crap. They even cooked some up to prove it.

salt in diet companies fight back tv dinner photo

A healthy choice dinner: there is even salt in the dessert.
Tony Cenicola/The New York

They have known this for years. According to the Times:

Salt also works in tandem with fat and sugar to achieve flavors that grip the consumer and do not let go -- an allure the industry has recognized for decades. "Once a preference is acquired," a top scientist at Frito-Lay wrote in a 1979 internal memorandum, "most people do not change it, but simply obey it."

Reducing salt has horrible implications for food companies:

Making deep cuts in salt can require more expensive ingredients that can hurt sales. Companies that make low-salt pasta sauces improve the taste with vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh herbs that cost more than dried spices and lower grade tomatoes.

And getting rid of it altogether: To convince the media of the importance of salt, Kelloggs whipped up Cheez-its, Corn Flakes and Eggos without salt. They tasted awful.

"Salt really changes the way that your tongue will taste the product," Mr. Kepplinger [of kelloggs] said. "You make one little change and something that was a complementary flavor now starts to stand out and become objectionable."

What a setup; salt is the key ingredient of manufactured food, it is why we love it. That's why the right thing to do is to just stop buying it and cook your own meals from scratch. You will still need a pinch of salt for flavour, but it won't be the main ingredient.

Grab a bowl of Cheetos and read the whole thing at the New York Times: The Hard Sell on Salt

Read Kelly of Planet Green answer the question "Why Cook?":

To me the most important reason is the ability to control the amount of fat, salt and sugar in my diet.

also: 7 Cheap and Easy Vegetarian Meals
Seven Ways to Eat Green (and Inadvertently Lose Weight)