The Obama Administration Wants Americans To Stop Eating So Much Salt

The FDA, perhaps still smarting from the recent artisanal cheese kerfuffle, is setting its sights on a bigger target: salt.

“The current level of [sodium] consumption is really higher than it should be,” said FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg. That’s why they’re preparing “voluntary guidelines” for the food industry encouraging them to stay below certain salt levels.

While the guidelines will initially be voluntary, health groups are lobbying for mandatory standards–lobbying that will only grow more intense if businesses refuse to comply once the standards are released. If businesses don’t go light on the salt “then FDA should start a process of mandatory limits,” said Center for Science in the Public Interest Executive Director Michael Jacobson.

The health effects of reduced sodium diets are hotly debated, and in fact low sodium consumption may even threaten the health of those with congestive heart failure, according to a May 2013 study by the Institute of Medicine–the same NGO that’s been pressuring the FDA to crack down on salty food.