Salt Strictures in New USDA Dietary Guidelines will Increase Cardiovascular and Other Health Risks

Government Policy is Uncontrolled Trial on More than 300 Million Americans

By Morton Satin, Vice President, Science and Research, Salt Institute

Follow the USDA Pyramid

"I Follow the Food Pyramid Very Closely" Cartoon by Morton Satin

The public record demonstrates that the previous Dietary Guidelines have not improved the health of consumers, but have instead resulted in confusion and fueled our national obesity epidemic. The 2010 Guidelines are no exception to this pattern.

The Guidelines have become more a reflection of ideology than science. The goal of the 5-year review is to examine all the new evidence with fresh, objective eyes before making recommendations, yet, before the 2010 process began, key members of the Advisory Committee were widely quoted in the press giving their views on the expected outcomes regarding sodium chloride, compromising the process and making the final recommendations a forgone conclusion.

Previous Guidelines made firm recommendations on fat, confidently portraying them as evidence-based, yet had to withdraw them a short time later, when the science proved them wrong. I believe this grim lesson will be repeated with salt.

The recommendation of 1,500 mg sodium comes to less than 4 grams of salt per day. No modern society consumes so little salt, making this proposal nothing less than a call for an uncontrolled trial on more than 300 million Americans.

Population-wide interventions to reduce cardiovascular risk only work when there are no negative health consequences – which is clearly not the case with salt reduction. Elevated renin-angiotensin-aldosterone activity resulting from reduced salt consumption will drive the population cardiovascular risk curve to higher levels. Peer-reviewed evidence further suggests the unintended consequences of cognitive impairment, adverse infant neuro-development and increased attention deficits and falls in the elderly.

Low nicotine cigarettes, lite beer, and low fat foods all encouraged greater consumption. Reduced salt in food will worsen the obesity crisis as individuals will consume more simply to satisfy their sodium appetite and their hunger for taste satisfaction. Young children and the 25% of the adult population that are supertasters will make worse food choices because the nutritionally-superior bitter phytochemicals, found in dark green vegetables will not benefit from salt moderation. The latest Nielson figures in the UK indicate that table salt sales have skyrocketed by 18% in the last year, countering all the claimed reductions in processed foods and the notion that people’s tastes can be changed by some bureaucratic fiat.

Healthy humans, all around the world, consume salt within a relatively narrow range controlled by natural physiological mechanisms. Trying to trump biology with unsound policy is pure folly.

This testimony was presented to the USDA and HHS Public Hearing, July 8, 2010


Morton Satin

Morton Satin is the Vice President of Science and Research for the Salt Institute.  Trained in Canada as a molecular biologist, he is an internationally-known food industry and United Nations executive and author with extensive experience in all sectors of the food industry.

He has authored seven text books in English and Spanish on the subjects of Food Safety, Food History and Irradiation as well as his most recent book entitled “Coffee Talk” – all available on Amazon.

Morton is a featured speaker at the press conference on Monday, Feb. 14, organized in response to the announcement of the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines.

Read other testimonies critical of the USDA food guidelines on USDA Dietary Guidelines Controversy page.


  1. Once again, the totally worthless and dangerous guidelines fail to distinguish between the “salt” in processed foods, and the real unrefined salt that has sustained humanity since the beginning.

    Processed salt has been stripped of all its minerals, and has had chemicals and often sweeteners added.

    We need salt to live. If you do not get enough salt, you die. It is that simple.

    Avoiding all processed foods and refined salt would be a much better recommendation. Eating only unrefined sea salt would be another great recommendation.

    Instead, all salt is treated the same, and we are told to eat a level lower than anyone in human history. These are not guidelines, they are Deathlines!

  2. Here is the link to the text of Morton Satin’s speech at the press conference, complete with links to the scientific references used for his analysis.

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