Did you know that one large dill pickle contains almost two grams of sodium?
Do you know that a number of health experts consider two grams the maximum amount of sodium healthy people should eat each day? One teaspoon of salt contains about 2 grams of sodium. Ordinary table salt is made up of about 40 per cent sodium; the rest is chloride.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a nutrition advocacy group, thinks the public is entitled to know how much sodium is put into packaged foods. It has asked the Food and Drug Administration to require the labeling of all food packages with the amount of sodium they contain. In addition, it has asked that limits be set on the amount of sodium which can be added to processed foods.
Many health professional believe that the high salt content of the American diet is an important factor in the development of high blood pressure, hypertension. Hypertension affects about 35 million Americans and it contributes to several hundred thousand deaths from heart attacks and strokes each year.
In addition to listing the amount of sodium on labels, CSPI has asked FDA to require the labeling of foods high in salt with the phrase "highly salty" and a picture of a salt shaker. "This would be particularly useful to elderly people who have poor vision or cannot read," the petition says.
The petition describes foods that contain over 200 milligrams of sodium as highly salty, a characterization with which many scientists would not agree. According to Bonnie Liebman of CSPI, they hope to "encourage manufacturers to lower the sodium content," of foods by classifying 200 milligrams of sodium as "highly salty."
In a chart accompanying the petition the sodium content of some common foods in included: three (4-inch) Hungry Jack pancakes contain more than a gram of sodium (1150 mg.), one cup of Del Monte canned green beans has almost a gram (950 mg.), two ounces of Kraft American cheese contain 890 mg., one serving of Pillsbury Danish cinnamon rolls with raisins has 630 mg.
On the other hand, an apple has only 2 mg. of sodium, one ounce of Nabisco shredded wheat has 1 mg. There are 122 mg. of sodium in eight ounces of milk and 241 mg. in a Hostess Twinkie.
A number of health professionals, physicians, professional and consumer groups are lending their support to the labeling petition. In addition 50 representative and 24 senators have endorsed its principles.