The FDA Wants To Take Your Salt Away

Most Americans are not consuming excessive amounts of sodium.


The Food and Drug Administration has issued voluntary guidance that aims to limit the amount of sodium that restaurants and grocery manufacturers put in the foods you buy so that you won't consume more than 3,000 milligrams per day (mg/day). Most of the sodium we consume comes from table salt. Currently, Americans consume about 3,400 mg/day of sodium. As justification for its guidance, the FDA points to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which advises individuals 14 years and older to limit their consumption to 2,300 mg/day. That amounts to a little over one teaspoon of salt per day.

The FDA doesn't want to go quite that far. The agency explains:

This guidance aims to help Americans reduce average sodium intake to 3,000 mg/day by encouraging food manufacturers, restaurants, and food service operations to gradually reduce sodium in foods over time. Although we recognize that a reduction to 3,000 mg/day still would be higher than the recommended sodium limit of 2,300 mg/day, the 2.5-year goals are intended to balance the need for broad and gradual reductions in sodium and what is publicly known about technical and market constraints on sodium reduction and reformulation.

The ostensible goal of limiting salt consumption is to reduce the incidence of high blood pressure and heart disease in Americans. The FDA states that there is a consensus among nutrition researchers that such limits will achieve those goals. In fact, that "consensus" is a highly contested area of research which a great deal of recent data contradicts.

For example, a June 2021 study in the European Heart Journal looked at average sodium intake in 181 countries and reported that higher daily per capita consumption correlated with longer life expectancy and lower rates of all-cause mortality.

An accompanying editorial noted that more than a dozen recent epidemiological studies have shown that the low sodium intake recommended by the FDA compared with the current average consumption is "not associated with lower risk of cardiovascular events and mortality, and may even be associated with an increased risk." Specifically, one study found that a moderate intake of between 3,000 and 5,000 mg/day was optimal while lower and higher consumption was associated with greater risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease. As the editorial observes, the results of a few randomized trials of sodium restriction are expected later this year that "will hopefully clarify whether or not sodium reduction should be recommended and, if so, the optimal range of sodium intake compatible with human health."

Keep firmly in mind that this study is reporting observational evidence at the population level. Ample research backs the finding that reducing sodium intake will reduce blood pressure, especially in people with hypertension. It is most likely the case that some subset of Americans may be especially salt sensitive and would benefit from consuming less. Better tests should be devised to identify such people so that the rest of us can consume our sodium in peace. As always folks, if your goal is to protect your health, strive for moderation in what you eat and drink.

NEXT: Don't Use the Term 'Trap House' in Your Party Invite at Yale Law School

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Again, goes without saying, Salt Control isn’t about salt, it’s about control. They literally don’t care if it improves or worsens anyone’s life.

    1. Do you ever get tired of being paranoid?

      1. not paranoid if correct.

        1. Hey Guys, I know you read many news comments and posts to earn money online jobs. Some people don’t know how to earn money and are saying to fake it. You trust me. I just started this 4 weeks ago. I’ve got my FIRST check total of $850, pretty cool. I hope you tried it.JIb You don’t need to invest anything. Just click and open the page to click the first statement and check jobs .. ..

          Here what I do………. VISIT HERE

        2. I made over $700 per day using my mobile in part time. I recently got my 5th paycheck of $19632 and all i was doing is to copy and paste work online. this home work makes me able to generate more cash daily easily.HGa simple to do work and regular income from this are just superb. Here what i am doing.

          Try now……………… VISIT HERE

        1. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/gandhi-leads-civil-disobedience

          March 12
          Mohandas Gandhi begins 241-mile civil disobedience march

          Gandhi’s March to the Sea, for sea-salt… I still have some Gandhi-salt left, but only a VERY few grains at all!!!

          WHO is with me?!?! Let’s march once more to the sea, for some soon-to-be-outlawed salt! When salt is outlawed, only outlaws will have salt! Let’s get a-salted, ye ol’ Salty Dawgs!

          1. These are 2 pay checks $78367 and $87367. that i received in last 2 months. I am very happy that i can make thousands in my part time and now i am enjoying my life.ghj Everybody can do this and earn lots of dollars from home in very short time period. Your Success is one step away Click Below Webpage…..

            Just visit this website now…… READ MORE

      2. It’s not paranoia if they’re really after you.

      3. I recall being reminded by the counterculture nuts who taught HS when I was a kid “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re NOT out to get you”.

      4. paranoia often implies irrationality. if you read the article, or weren’t born yesterday, you’d know there is definitely not a consensus on proper amount of salt intake. so, it would seem the evidence is in his favor.

    2. Basically the only people who need to worry about consuming too much salt are people with kidney damage caused high blood pressure. This is like telling everybody they have to consume only low glycemic index foods, because it’s important for diabetics.

      For the rest of us, the recommendation is probably too low, way too low if you spend any time outdoors in hot weather.

    3. For the FDA, I would be slightly more generous. It’s about justifying their agency’s agenda. Human biology hasn’t meaningfully changed in millennia. The core knowledge of nutrition (get sufficient calories, amino acids, and vitamins) was locked in before most of us were born.

      The FDA either needs to cut back their staff or create initiatives to increase “health”. They have to keep pushing out programs, justifying them with the best-sounding language that they can make, or they will lose their jobs

  2. tyrants all the way down.

  3. “if your goal is to protect your health, strive for moderation in what you eat and drink.”

    And read. Lack of a balanced diet is an occupational hazard among silo dwellers left & right.

    1. “To enjoy life, take big bites! Moderation is for monks.”
      – L. Long

  4. Feds are continuing to pepper us with tyranny.

    1. They are taking the savor out of life.

      1. They’re doing it just to spice us.

    2. They are a-salting us left and right! Leaven the levees, levy up, rise up, even the yeast of us! The salt of the Earth will a-salt the scum of the Earth in the end! The (salted) leeks will inherit the Earth! Blessed are the (salted) cheese-makers! NO un-salted nuts OR nits for us; ONLY the SALTED nuts and nits! I (for one) pick your salted nits, dammit!

    3. You need to salt away some of these puns for later consumption.

      1. Save them for another season?

    4. An a-salt on freedom.

    5. There’s a lot of salty language in these comments.

  5. There is a word for a political philosophy that seeks to use armed agents of the state to prevent me from consuming salt, force me to take a new “vaccine” yet wants federally funded abortion through the fourth trimester under the guise of “keep your laws off my body”.

    1. Psychotic? Schizophrenic?

  6. Tidbits from ancient history.

    Dr. Anthony Fauci, August 2020, when asked what the “contingency plan” would be for people who might refuse to take a vaccine:

    Fauci: Well, I mean they have every right to refuse a vaccine, so we don’t need a contingency plan. If someone refuses the vaccine in the general public, there’s nothing you can do about that. You cannot force someone to take a vaccine.

  7. My wife already keeps salt packets in her purse. If they prevent restaurants from handing them out, she will just buy an extra container at the grocery store and carry that.

    If anybody tries to forcibly take away her salt, she is perfectly willing to shoot them. She also carries a .22.

    1. She also carries a .22.

      She should just throw salt in their eyes, that would be more effective.


      1. Israelis have been assassinating people for years with .22s. Deadly bullet in close range; enters the skull but does not have the velocity to exit, so it kinda just bounces around. Similar effects on torso shots.

        1. Bigger is not always better? Excellent tip!

        2. The ‘one shot stop’ data widely touted as being used by the FBI to switch away from (and then back to) the 9mm is (through all the mess of shot placement and terminal ballistics) pretty roughly equivalent (>~90%) for everything above a standard .38. The .22 LR is still more likely to kill with 1 shot rather than not. Even the .25 ACP is in the ~50% range. And that’s kills with 1 shot, not prevented a rape by inducing pain/trauma.

          I freely admit that I would prefer that the magic wand I pulled out of my pocket in self-defense would vaporize the perp(s) and send letters to their NOK and state representatives advising they do better next time, but if the goal is simply to prevent a rape or sodium theft, even the .25 ACP is a viable option.

          1. And, better the gun you actually carried than the one you left home in the safe.

    2. What? No pepper spary? Your wife’s attackers clearly need to find a classier joint to mug people for salt outside of.

    1. Seriously. Fuck these people.

      1. Actual death panels at work. Brought to you by fascists.

    2. JFree grows a ladyboner.

    3. Is the Hippocratic Oath out of fashion?

      1. Yes, actually it is. The oath that you will not provide a woman with an abortion is a bit of a stickler these days.

      2. Is now the Hypocritic Oath.

  8. The FDA took my salt away
    They took it away, away from me…

  9. It’s shit like this that fucks up supply chains and medical diagnosis. Twenty years ago it was saturating every fucking thing with calcium because it seems the chitlins weren’t getting enough. Meanwhile because every damn thing from orange juice to cereal to flour was “fortified” with calcium some people, read me, was diagnosed with cancer because blood calcium levels were so high especially for an adult who doesn’t even buy milk. Needless to say, doctors didn’t figure it out, I did and stopped buying the “fortified” foods and largely had to switch to squeezing or grinding my own because damn near everything on store shelves was fortified with calcium.

    Thank goodness I can still get just salt for now. I have no doubt that some time in the future it will be “fortified” with fluorine.

    1. Kids’ cereals fortified with enough iron to make a sword aren’t helping our health much either.

      1. Crush up some Cheerios and pass a good magnet across the dust. A true WTF moment.

        1. Holy hemochromatosis Bat Man! You’d think that it being 1/3 iron by weight it would be a whole lot cheaper.

          1. D’oh! .33% iron. Bitten by the damn mg/g bug. Unit matter kids, unless you work for the gov’t.

            1. Dang, I blame the wine or rum or beer or ??? I’m not that bad at math normally. 33 mg per 100 g is .03 g per 100 g which would be .03%. Still it’s like 4 times higher than most other cereals in the rest of the world.

        2. Today on Forged in Fire. Contestants today you will make a dagger. It must be between 6 and 8 inches in length. The material for today is …………………………….Cheerios!

          1. “After coating the cannister with white out, I’m filling my it with powdered steel and breakfast cereal so that after I heat it in the forge, weld it together, and draw it out, it should produce a nice Cheerios Damascus.

        3. Ok, I looked up beef liver. It’s 6.5 to 7 mg per 100 g which is less that 1/4 of the 33 mg per 100 mg for Cheerios. Sure, Cheerios isn’t heme iron like beef but that just means it’s little more than metal filings. WTF indeed.

    2. Pretty much all non-trendy salt is fortified with iodine. The trendy pink Himalyan stuff isn’t, but if you can afford that stuff you can afford your own iodine.

      Also, you water is probably fluoridated. OMG! Your precious bodily fluids!

      1. Actually only mined salts have iodine added. Sea salt has plenty of iodine naturally which is why they started adding iodine to mined salt when many folks, especially those far from the coast, didn’t have a fresh supply of seafood or sea salt. It’s not really “fortified” if you’re adding something that has historically been part of the dietary substance in the first place.

        Contrast with milk which is fortified with vitamin D. No animal produces milk with anything but very mere trace amounts of vitamin D if any. There’s actually a reason for that. People believe their bodies “make” vitamin D from exposure to the sun. Likewise many people know that we stop making vitamin D when we reach a certain level. The truth is our bodies convert vitamin D from other substances – namely cholesterol.

        The commercial really should read; “Got Milk? Got high cholesterol?”

      2. Oh, almost forgot. Thanks for noticing my fluorine crack. I know my water is likely fluoridated but that doesn’t mean it should be. I do have several friends with mottled teeth because of the very excessive fluoride in the water. In general, if the water is fluoridated, I don’t buy fluoride tooth paste.

        If you’re really worried about it you can use a fairly simple bone charcoal based filter or one of the better RO filters that will remove most of it. If you really want to go whole hog, I’d recommend a nice distillation setup particularly one that has heat recovery built in like a vapor compression still used on submarines.

    3. Meanwhile because every damn thing from orange juice to cereal to flour was “fortified” with calcium some people, read me, was diagnosed with cancer because blood calcium levels were so high especially for an adult who doesn’t even buy milk.

      Sounds, at least a little, like a *you* problem. Doctors should’ve definitely picked up on it, but after more than 30 yrs. of a 2-3 gallons a week milk habit, my blood calcium levels have never been a tick above normal, no cancer (fingers crossed).

  10. OK, this is getting out of hand.
    I don’t object to restricting broccoli, or even spinach, but SALT??!!
    Dear God, next they will come for bacon or coffee!!!

    Aux Barricades!

    1. You’ve bean bacon the question.

      1. Weird, but I am getting hungry all of a sudden – – – – – – – –

    2. “Bacon is proof that there is a God, and that he loves us”

      The original was apparently poorly translated from Martin Luther’s actual comment.

    3. I don’t object to restricting broccoli, or even spinach, but SALT??!!

      Not to mention that, replacing the roast beef on your sandwiches lb. for lb. with spinach is going to leave you worse off in terms of sodium intake. So you figure, what, like 5 yrs. away from low sodium spinach mandates?

  11. You know what other granular white foodstuff we could ban to save fatties?

    Fucking sugar, you dipsticks. Seriously, what the flamingo riding ratfuckery is going on with these people?

    1. Just to be clear, I support liberty and personal autonomy, so if you identify as a land whale it’s actually none of my business, but the jokes don’t stop.

      1. I don’t like regulatory bs either or telling people what to do, but if you’re going to recommend eating less of something, sugar should top the list. Much worse for you than salt or fat.

  12. It’s for the greater good. You don’t want fatties clogging up our hospitals, do you?

  13. The FDA had lost all credibility in the past 18 months for most normal people. But at least they still have their Fauci cult followers.

  14. Remember that day the people pass the Constitutional Amendment –
    Congress shall monitor the people’s diets…

    Yeah; Me neither. F’en Nazi’s. You have no authority. Just criminal gun toting monsters with no respect for the people’s law over them.

  15. The FDA states that there is a consensus among nutrition researchers that such limits will achieve those goals.

    It will be just as good for you as low fat diets. And unsaturated fats. And the food pyramid. Because if there is one thing the US government knows, it’s what’s good for everybody’s health!

  16. Is anyone else tire of being lied to and manipulated?

    1. p.s.

      Let’s go Brandon!

      1. I finally saw what that was a reference to today!

        Let’s go, Brandon!

    2. You pay extra for that in Vegas. Just saying.

  17. How is it that the most advanced medical system in the history of the world is prone to being the most nanny-ish of them too?

    Fuck the FDA and their guidelines.

    1. Most nanny-ish? I see you’ve never been to Europe or Australia.

      1. Yeah, it’s a misconceptualization. “How is it that Mary Poppins, the most magical nanny in the history of the world is still a nanny?”

  18. My mom got onto a healthfood kick decades ago, and then my dad got high blood pressure. So now when I go visit I need to bring my own salt because the food is tasteless. Ditto for sugar. She used to make the most awesome oatmeal raisin cookies when I was a kid, now they taste like raisin sawdust. Sigh. And I’m not a salt person. I never salt anything at home or in restaurants. I tend to avoid fries at Five Guys and some other spots because they are too damned salty.

    Regardless, just an anecdote.

    Fuck the FDA.
    Fuck the USDA.
    Fuck Joe Biden.
    Fuck Donald Trump.

    1. So now when I go visit I need to bring my own salt because the food is tasteless.

      Yeah, my FIL had his colon removed and doesn’t metabolize minerals and electrolytes well. Anything out of a box and both she and my wife are fine but, otherwise, even the kids complain that “Mom cooks like Grandma.”

  19. So are salt shakers a-salt weapons? Maybe we should limit the number of salt shakers people can own and the capacity that salt shakers can hold. I mean, after all, it’s for good of the public health. Right?

    1. I believe a state, maybe NJ or NY, wanted to limit the number of holes on salt shakers in diners. The pandemic of insanity is endless.

  20. Most of the sodium consumed in restaurants fast food joints, snack foods, etc are high in sodium.. which causes people to sucumb to the “just one more” habit. BUT I’d venture to state that along wiht the sodium in such foods you will find HUGE quantities of “empty” carbohydrates, and a number of complex salts and hydrogenated fats that are FAR more dnagerous to one’s heart and overal health than plain ol sodium. Millions of we Yanks gobble down tonnes of these “snack foods”, loaded wiht sodium, yes, but also (and more relevant to the real problem) other food products that are far more deadly than sodium. A healthy body in good balance will regulate sodium content all by itself with NO gummit “help”.

  21. Would a black market in salt be white?

  22. I’m starting to hoard salt packet today.

  23. Bailey needs to stop pretending he writes about science, because what he writes about most is arguments of scientists who want to control things. He takes one side or the other but he doesn’t dispute that the government should be controlling us based on the use of science. In this latest example, responding to FDA proposals for limiting salt, Bailey argues that most of us should probably be left to decide how much salt we should consume, implying that others should be controlled: “Better tests should be devised to identify such people so that the rest of us can consume our sodium in peace.” Sorry Ronny: It’s none of the government’s damned business, how much salt we consume!

  24. A lifetime of IBD has my colon damaged. That is where salt is mainly taken in. I eat a crap ton of salt and don’t test too high for sodium. People who’ve had colectomies are told to salt their food until it tastes like the ocean. This is not a one size fits all answer. Our Drs should be making that call for each of us individually.

    Not that the govt cares. It’s called Population Health, kill these people to save those people. As long as it looks like they’re doing something.

  25. I don’t get the problem. It makes sense to me. You can always add salt but you can’t take it out. Just add some if you want more, the people who want less area all set. I like salt, so I just sprinkle some on…no problem, it’s not hard to do.

  26. We need another budget impasse so the government can close down and stop meddling in our lives. People get the majority of their sodium from table salt because most packaged foods are already bland as hell. Rather than cut out salt, can we cut out the FDA?

    1. Absolutely false. Packaged and canned foods are loaded with salt. I say this as someone who has to limit salt for health reasons—I have to read the labels.

  27. I eat Lay’s low salt potato chips. The amount of sodium is about 40% less than the chips in the iconic yellow bag.

    I can’t tell the difference in saltiness.

    It’s a similar situation with reduced-sodium deli meats versus the regular meats.

    Salt is a preservative. As many food companies have cut back on preservatives like BHA and BHT, they have increased use of salt in order to maintain shelf life in grocery stores, as well as shelf life in your pantry and refrigerator.

    And after years of fast-food French fries, whether big chain or mom-and-pop, often being almost too salty, I’ve noticed that restaurants are being less generous with the salt, meaning more potato taste.

    1. Fries are just utensils for eating ketchup.

Please to post comments