As the US advisory body on dietary advice convened in Washington, D.C. to discuss salt consumption, the Salt Institute and the US Chamber of Commerce were taking the Bush government to court, claiming the full scientific facts on blood pressure and salt intake are not playing a role in health policy.
The use of salt by food manufacturers has met with increased criticism from consumer groups and health organisations attesting that too much salt can raise blood pressure, leading to a greater risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke.
But in the US, the Salt Institute is charging that findings from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) funded study - DASH-Sodium Trial - are being selectively used.
"The DASH-Sodium results show that improving dietary quality improves blood pressure and that salt intake is unimportant for the population at large, though it may be important for older people suffering high blood pressure. But that's not what NHLBI claims from the results," said Salt Institute president Richard Hanneman.
Health policy should be based on science, not politics, he added.
said Salt Institute president Richard L. Hanneman. The case charges that the NHLBI "illegally refused to make available full, accurate, and transparent documentation" of the DASH-Sodium Trial results.
The use of salt is a contentious issue and one that has attracted the attention of stakeholders in society today. Last year the UN-backed World Health Organisation (WHO) released, to criticism from the US food industry in particular, a global strategy on diet, physical Activity and health that called for a limit in the consumption of saturated and trans fats and salt in the diet.
Staunchly defending the industry, Hanneman from the Salt Institute added: "By mischaracterising this important study[Dash], NHLBI is making it impossible for the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to understand that its focus should be on improving the quality of the American diet, not demonising certain foods or nutrients."