Channeling his inner Mike Bloomberg, Mayor Bill de Blasio is planning a crusade against salt.
With a zeal that would garner a nod from the former mayor -- the one who banned transfats, required calorie-count labeling and fought to eliminate big sodas -- de Blasio wants to stop New Yorkers from eating food he fears is too salty. The mayor wants to improve the city's premature mortality rate, especially among some racial and ethnic groups.
The NYC health department is proposing saltshaker icons next to chain-restaurant menu items that exceed the Food and Drug Administration's recommended daily limit of a teaspoon of salt -- 2,300 to 2,400 milligrams -- for people 50 and younger. While more details for the consumer is usually a good idea, a judgment of the chemical compound is not. Recent studies complicate that recommendation.
An analysis from Denmark, for instance, contends that the FDA suggestion is too low and a healthier range should be 2,645 to 4,945 milligrams of salt a day. The study determined that both too little and too much salt could be dangerous. Meanwhile, British scientists found in 2013 that cutting daily salt consumption did not produce a lower risk of heart disease. A 2013 report by a Centers for Disease Control-commissioned research group echoed the Danish findings and said the average daily salt intake by Americans is 3,400 milligrams. That's well within the range proposed by the Danish study.
So after being wrongfully convicted for decades by the health powers, salt appears to have been exonerated by multiple studies. But that's not dissuading de Blasio from wanting New York City to be the first place in the nation with a mandatory salt warning.
There is an alternative. Chain restaurants, defined as having more than 15 locations nationally, already know what's in the food they serve. They should share the information.
Restaurants can have saltshaker-free menus and still provide nutritional details via signs, pamphlets, apps and websites. From there, it's the consumer's obligation to decide.
Moderation in regulation, as in food consumption, is usually the best way.