Salt Institute Letter to USDA Says Reduced-Sodium Dietary Guidelines Should Be Withdrawn

October 3, 2011

Citing the Freedom of Information Act, the Institute has requested that USDA make public all of the documents and other evidence it used to set the reduced-sodium recommendations.

In a 17-page letter sent to the USDA today, the Salt Institute has requested that 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommending reduced sodium intake should be withdrawn due to insufficient evidence. Moreover, citing the Freedom of Information Act, the Institute has requested that USDA make public all of the documents and other evidence it used to set the reduced-sodium recommendations.

In its letter, the Institute calls the Dietary Guidelines’ sodium provisions “arbitary and capricious.” The letter states that USDA based its recommendation on “inadequate medical and scientific evidence.” As further argument of a lack of sufficient evidence, the Institute quotes the Institute of Medicine (IOM), when making its recommendations for the latest 2010 guidelines, as concluding that “[b]ecause of insufficient data from dose-response trials, an Estimated Average Requirement could not be established and thus a Recommended Dietary Allowance could not be derived.”

The Institute also states that the Guidelines violate the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act by failing to be based on sufficient evidence.

In addition to withdrawing the sodium provisions, the Institute is asking the USDA to initiate an “open and transparent” rulemaking process, allowing the public to provide “current and reliable scientific and medical evidence.”

“The Dietary Guidelines on sodium should be withdrawn and all legislative or regulatory actions based on them reversed or halted in order to protect the health of Americans,” stated Salt Institute president Lori Roman. “These Guidelines have made a mockery of the law through a process compromised by conflict of interest and a complete disregard for numerous scientific studies that point out the dangers of a low-salt diet.”

“To survive and thrive, the body needs salt,” she continued. “That’s a medical fact….We oppose 300 million Americans being treated like lab rats in a risky trial.”