Salty Language

I hadn’t intended my very first post to be about something healthy but sometimes topics don’t want to wait. To be clear, let me say that I’m not a fanatic about healthy eating exactly. I really like bad for you food. But I also enjoy eating lots of salads and vegetables, too.

So imagine my shock when a recent trip to the hospital led the doc to actually say to me: stop eating pickles and cut your salt down to 2000 milligrams a day.” What? No pickles? What’s life without pickles?

I didn’t think it would be such a big deal. The doc said “if the sodium number is higher than the calorie number, don’t eat it.” Piece o’ cake. I reset my food tracking software to show past salt intake. Wowser!!! My eyes were widened so much that my eyeballs threatened to jump out. Some days I had been ingesting as much as 6000 milligrams of salt in a day. No wonder I was in the hospital.

When I started reading the nutrition labels more closely, I began to get a little frustrated. I’d been eating things that a lot of people tout as good for you, but if you’re looking to lower sodium they were anything but. I’d been eating a lot of Morningstar Farms Veggie burgers–low in calories and great tasting. But too much salt! Amy’s Organic soups have more salt in them than cheap store brand soup. Even things labeled Reduced Salt or Low Sodium still have an astonishing amount of sodium.

This prompted me to go online to figure out if there were government regulations about sodium labeling. There are. (I’ve put that information at the bottom of this post if you’re interested.) As with any other nutrient, the only thing a person can do is read those labels carefully. I spend a lot of time looking up foods I’d like to buy to make sure they fit the requirements I’m under right now. It’s tiresome. But you gotta do what you gotta do!

But take heart, this blog won’t be entirely about healthy foods and low sodium. I have some tasty tasty bad for you recipes for sure! But I also have some tasty better for you things as well.

Government Guidelines for Sodium Labeling

21 CFR 101.61

Less than 5 mg per RACC and per labeled serving (or for meals and main dishes, less than 5 mg per labeled serving) (b)(1)
Contains no ingredient that is sodium chloride or generally understood to contain sodium

“Salt Free” must meet criterion for “Sodium Free” (c)(1)

Low Sodium
140 mg or less per RACC (and per 50 g if RACC is small) (b)(4)
Meals and main dishes: 140 mg or less per 100g (b)(5)

Very Low Sodium
35 mg or less per RACC (and per 50g if RACC is small). For meals and main dishes: 35mg or less per 100g (b)(2) & (3)

Reduced/Less Sodium
At least 25% less sodium per RACC than an appropriate reference food (or for meals and main dishes, at least 25% less sodium per 100g)
Reference food may not be “Low Sodium” (b)(6) & (7)

“Light” (for sodium reduced 21 CFR products): if food is “Low Calorie” and “Low Fat” and sodium is reduced by at least 50%. 21 CFR 101.56(c)(1)
“Light in Sodium”: if sodium is reduced by at least 50% per RACC. 21 CFR 101.56(c)(2)

For meals and main dishes, “Light in Sodium” meets definition for “Low in Sodium” 21 CFR 101.56(d)(2)

“No Salt Added” and “Unsalted” must declare “This is Not A Sodium Free Food” either adjacent to the claim or on the information panel, if food is not “Sodium Free” 21 CFR 101.61(c)(2)

“Lightly Salted”: 50% less sodium than normally added to reference food and if not “Low Sodium”, so labeled on information panel 21 CFR 101.56(g)