Naples, FL—World Food day is celebrated across the globe every October 16 in commemoration of the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and dedicated to the goal of ending world hunger and ending food wastage. Salt has played an essential role over thousands of years in preserving and protecting food as well as in keeping people healthy, and it continues to do so today.
No mineral is more essential to human survival than salt. Bread, cheese and processed meats can’t be made without salt. Salt acts as an essential preservative, reducing the likelihood of bacterial growth. This natural preservative has allowed people to keep and store food for extended periods of time, reducing wastage and spoilage and keeping it safe to eat for extended periods of time. The advent of refrigeration meant that we could preserve food with less salt, but salt remains a critical ingredient especially in areas where access to refrigeration is limited.
The UN has emphasized a more sustainable food production approach that relies more on fruits and vegetables, but food wastage remains a significant concern. Dark green vegetables like spinach and broccoli, for example, are among the most nutritious foods. However, they all contain very bitter phytochemicals that affect their taste. Adding salt to these vegetables makes them taste better. A University of Vermont study to measure food consumption in schools before and after the salt reduction mandate found significant food waste with less salt. The study showed that although students were required to place more fruits and vegetables on their trays, they ate less of each.
Around the world people all eat within the same range of salt. The average American eats about 3,400 mg per day of sodium, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and this may be on the low side of the healthy range. A 2014 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tested sodium consumption in more than 100,000 people in 17 countries. The study found that the healthy range for sodium consumption was consistently between 3,000 and 6,000 mg per day.
Because the level of salt consumption is so stable, it’s an ideal medium to fortify with other essential nutrients such as iodine. Iodized salt was first produced in the U.S. in 1924 and is now used by 75 percent of the world’s population to prevent Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD). Iodine is an essential element in healthy human life, enabling the function of thyroid glands to produce needed hormones for proper metabolism. When children in the womb don’t get enough iodine from their mother, fetal brain development may be impaired. Iodized salt remains one of the greatest public health success stories.
“Salt is the flavor of life and this year we should all acknowledge its many benefits as we recognize World Food Day,” said Lori Roman, President of the Salt Institute. To learn more please visit www.saltinstitute.org.
The Salt Institute is a North American based non-profit trade association dedicated to advancing the many benefits of salt, particularly to ensure winter roadway safety, quality water and healthy nutrition.