Salt shakers should carry tobacco-style health warning label

In an endeavor to reduce dietary salt intake, a position statement published earlier this week in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension suggests that salt sold in supermarkets for consumption and salt shakers in restaurants should be required to carry a front-of-pack, tobacco-style health warning.

This position statement requests that governments require health warnings on packages of sodium chloride (salt) sold for consumption and sodium dispensers. The warning label should be clearly visible and easily readable, indicating that consumption of excess sodium is a health risk and advising consumers to use less sodium.

The authors have proposed a sample warning label: “Too much sodium in the diet causes high blood pressure and increases risk of stomach cancer, stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. Limit your use.”

Lead author, Dr Norm Campbell, former President of the World Hypertension League said, “The World Health Organization established a target for countries to reduce sodium intake by 30% by 2025, and governments and the food industry have been working together to reduce salt in processed foods. However, urgent action now needs to be taken to raise consumer awareness of these dangers.”

“Although most countries require sodium levels on labels in processed foods, they are difficult for people to interpret and dont warn of any health risks…Health warnings on salt package and dispensers would be a simple, cost-effective way of conveying the dangers of salt to billions of people worldwide,” stated Jacqui Webster, Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Population Salt Reduction at the George Institute for Global Health

According to Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, “Warning labels on packaged foods and menus can help people make healthier choices. Adding warning labels to all salt packaging is another way to make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

The position statement has been endorsed by several leading international health organizations such as World Hypertension League, Resolve to Save Lives, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Salt Reduction, The George Institute for Global Health, World Action on Salt and Health (WASH), Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Nutrition, University of Warwick, Hypertension Canada, and the British and Irish Hypertension Society.

(Excerpts from Journal of Clinical Hypertension, Sept. 25; George Institute for Global Health News Release, Sept. 27, 2019)

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