For Serenity Later, Tackle Salinity Now - NBC4 Washington

For Serenity Later, Tackle Salinity Now

Health officials take on salty foods

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    Only 25% of the salt people consume comes from the shaker; the rest comes from prepared and processed foods.

    First they fought the battle of the bulge by banning trans fats. Then it was a push to make restaurants tell customers just how fattening their dishes really were. Now, health officials in New York City have a new frontier: they are waging a war on salty foods-- and if history is any indication, their campaign will soon go national.

    As part of their mission to make America healthier, the New York City Health Department has begun meeting with restaurants and food manufacturers to discuss reducing the amount of sodium in common foods-- like soup, bread, and salad dressing.

    Officials say 75% of the salt consumed by Americans comes from prepared and processed foods, not a salt shaker-- prompting New York officials to get the food industry involved.

    "It's very hard for an individual to do this on their own," said Dr. Lynn Silver, an assistant commissioner in the health department.

    Food distributors say reducing salt isn't easy-- unlike sugar or trans fats-- there is no substitute for salt.

    The New York City Health Department has a good track record when it comes to enacting stronger health policies; they were trailblazers in the fight to ban trans fats in restaurants. After New York's effort, cities nationwide followed suit.

    They also won a big victory by forcing chain restaurants to post nutritional information for diners to see. Washington, DC is currently considering a similar policy.