Monday, March 15, 2010

Salt Of The Earth

There's currently a bill to ban salt in restaurants in New York.

No. Really.

Customers would be allowed to use salt, according to the bill introduced by Assembly Felix Ortiz, but cooks, chefs, and bakers would not, under threat of $1,000 fine per violation. Now, this is stupid for more reasons that you think--the chemistry of salt in cooking does more than add flavor. The link above gives a lengthy overview of why this bill is lunacy, but if I may quote the article directly:

Ortiz admits that prior to introducing the bill he did not research salt’s role in food chemistry, its effect on flavor or his bill’s ramifications for the restaurant industry. He tells me he was prompted to introduce the bill because his father used salt excessively for many years, developed high blood pressure and had a heart attack.

Couple things. First, Ortiz admits that he did no research on the role of salt in cooking. Second, the main motivation is that his father used too much salt--but since salt would still be available to patrons, the bill would not have saved his father's life.

Seriously, people. Think before you legislate.



Amy said...

Ok, that is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard.

If you're going to ban something in restaurants, maybe start with something like smoking or HFCS or MSG or certain preservatives or hormones that have actually been proven to be harmful to people. But SALT??? (blink, blink) What a waste of time.

Walter said...

While I completely agree that this is a ridiculous move, salt is in fact bad for you (just to clarify for the previous comment). Salt leads to water retention which CAN lead to hypertension. However, other systems must generally be in place (i.e. heart failure, atherosclerosis, etc...) before this fluid retention causes problems. In a healthy individual there are several systems in place to maintain homeostatic balance in the face of an acute rise in volume. This is why people who have had a heart attack or have heart or renal failure must go on a sodium restricted diet.
Maybe instead of banning salt in restaurants New York should focus on funding health care that focuses on preventive medicine with incentives for good primary care physicians. That would have saved this guys father.

Amy said...

While I understand that salt can be "bad" if you get too much (what isn't?), it's natural and relatively harmless if consumed in moderation - at least, compared to some of the other ingredients found in restaurant food.
I do agree that focusing on changing people's eating habits via preventative healthcare would go a lot further toward the goal than trying to restrict restaurants from using salt.