Would you like some bacon with that salt?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration made waves last week when the agency announced it was setting new salt guidelines and sodium reduction goals for processed and packaged foods. As a report from Bloomberg, called “Here’s What the Government Wants to Do to Your Bacon,” points out, some of the saltiest prepared foods are breakfast meats – from bacon bits to precooked sausage and, yes, both cooked and uncooked bacon. In these new guidelines, the FDA recommends that the amount of sodium in cooked bacon that’s been prepared in a restaurant drop nearly 40 percent, from a mean sodium content of 1,973 milligrams per 100 grams of food to 1,200 milligrams per 100 grams. That means the super salty bacon you know and love may be no more if the government has its way.
Meats aren’t the only category of breakfast food that’s been targeted for sodium reduction. The full list of targets includes 150 different categories of food and highlights some other breakfast foods that unlikely sources of sodium. Frozen biscuits, for example, have a mean sodium content of 954 milligrams per 100 grams, about the same as the mean sodium content of precooked sausage, which comes in at 936 milligrams. Breakfast sandwiches served on biscuits and prepared in a restaurant have a mean sodium content of 805 milligrams; the FDA is recommending that number decrease by nearly 45 percent, to 440 milligrams, over the next ten years.
To put these number in some context, the recommended daily sodium intake is 2,300 milligrams or less, and the average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of salt every day. So, yes, Americans generally are eating too much salt, and the risks of that include an increase in blood pressure, which could lead to heart disease. But the costs of removing salt include bland bacon and breakfast meats, also a terrifying thought for the average American breakfast sandwich enthusiast.
If you’re starting to worry that you’ll never be able to enjoy a satisfyingly salty slice of bacon ever again, you can relax. Two sets of sodium reduction goals were been laid out by the FDA: a short-term goal to be reached in two years and another, more aggressive, long-term, ten year target. The idea is that companies will be able to gradually reduce the amount of sodium in food so consumers aren’t shocked by a sudden loss of salt, according to Bloomberg. Plus, the salt reduction goals are voluntary rather than mandatory, so you might still be able to find that salty, cured bacon you crave in ten years’ time. And even if you can’t, there’s always the salt shaker.