If my post on the city of San Francisco suggesting in a non-binding resolution that restaurants and cafeterias offer meatless options on Mondays had people crying “nanny state” and “the government really shouldn’t be getting into the business of what people eat every night,” this is going to really rile people up.

The Washington Post reported today that the Food and Drug Administration “is planning an unprecedented effort to gradually reduce the salt consumed each day by Americans.”

The recommended daily sodium intake for a healthy adult is 2300mg, but on average, Americans consume 3500mg of sodium a day. Seventy-seven percent of that comes from processed foods. 

Not surprisingly, a representative from the Salt Institute, an organization that represents salt producers, says that regulating sodium “would be a disaster for the public” because consumption of sodium does not necessarily lead to health problems.

No specifics have been announced yet. Before they can be, the FDA needs to analyze the salt content in processed foods. Then they plan to work with food manufacturers to set limits for salt, gradually taking foods down to those limits. I have to wonder if working with the food manufacturers will bring about the most positive results.

The debate in the public will mostly likely be whose responsibility it is to monitor salt intake. Is it the individual’s responsibility to make sure he or she doesn’t take in too much salt? Is the government’s responsibility to set rules for the amount of sodium in foods or does that infringe on our personal freedom? Is it the food manufacturer’s responsibility to stop using high amounts of salt as a way to make their processed foods palatable to consumers? Is it a combination of all?

Go ahead, discuss.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

FDA to limit salt in processed foods
Will legally limiting sodium lead to healthier Americans or a nanny state?