Target: Commissioner of Food and Drugs Margaret Hamburg
Goal: Warn consumers about the dangers of excess salt in their diets
Over the past forty years, Americans have been consuming increasingly higher levels of salt as processed foods became a staple of many people’s diets, to the point that the average American ingests more than twice the recommended daily amount. With this rise, more and more Americans are dying from heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death in the country. Excess sodium intake has been linked with these two diseases and is recognized as a serious problem by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Finland, in the 1970s, a label was applied to foods heavy in salt after many Finns began developing high blood pressure and dying of heart disease due to their high sodium diets. Along with other measures, labeling worked to curtail salt consumption and bring down the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease.
If we want a healthier society, it is imperative that the public becomes aware of the danger of excess salt consumption and that food manufacturers begin making a concerted effort to reduce salt intake in the United States. Currently, most food companies have little incentive to lower the levels of salt in their products. Low-sodium varieties of their products do not sell as well as the regular product line, due to the amount of salt that most consumers are used to. A label warning consumers about salty foods is a first step toward educating the public and inducing corporations to begin making healthier products.
Urge the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to implement a warning label campaign of the type that has worked so well in Finland, and educate consumers about the impacts of a salty diet.
Dear Commissioner of Food and Drugs Margaret Hamburg,
As your agency, the Food and Drug Administration, is aware, Americans consume more than twice as much sodium than the Recommended Daily Allowance. This has led to higher rates than ever of stroke, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. As you also know, all three of these diseases are linked to high salt consumption.
Many Americans are unaware of the detrimental effects that excess sodium intake has on their health. While the Nutritional Facts on the backs of food packaging show the amount of sodium per serving and the Daily Value the amount represents, the danger is not made clear to consumers that too much salt will harm their health.
I ask that you move to enact mandatory labeling on all food products which contain high levels of sodium. With consumers alerted to the threat posed by too much salt, they will be able to make more informed decisions regarding their own health and give an incentive to companies to make more wholesome products.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jorge Royan via Wikimedia Commons