Monday, December 30, 2013

How 13,000 heart attacks a year could be avoided if we ate two pinches less salt (?)

This is old-fashioned propaganda now.  It takes a while for new findings to be absorbed.  It's just  poorly-based theory below

Lowering our salt intake by just two pinches a day could prevent 13,000 heart attacks and 5,000 strokes, say researchers.

Although the national intake has fallen in recent years, it remains above the recommended maximum of 6g a day, with average consumption at 8.6g.

Excess salt is a major contributor to high blood pressure, leading to heart disease and stroke.

The latest research by a team of scientists at Wageningen University in the Netherlands found nearly 5 per cent of all heart attacks and almost 6 per cent of strokes could be prevented if there was less salt in food products such as ready meals.

The Dutch team worked out how consuming the target of 6g daily would affect our health. They analysed data on average salt intake and took into account previous research that showed the drop in blood pressure levels that could be achieved through eating less.

The researchers then assessed the full impact if everybody complied with the 6g a day limit, says a report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  Their findings show roughly one in 20 heart attacks and one in 16 strokes could be completely avoided if processed foods contained reduced levels.

The report said: ‘Substantial health benefits might be achieved when added salt is removed from processed foods and when consumers choose low-salt food alternatives.’

Katharine Jenner, chief executive of the Blood Pressure Association, said the Department of Health’s campaign to reduce salt is saving approximately 8,500 lives a year, but until all food manufacturers and restaurants reduce the amount of salt they add to our food the nation’s health remains at risk.

‘The Department of Health estimates that every 1g reduction in salt intake will save at least 4,147 deaths and £288million to the NHS every year,’ she added.  The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence wants average UK consumption to be slashed to just 3g a day by 2025.


California Regulators Attempt to Kill Sriracha

Why did state regulators shut down the company's sales for a month and push the hot sauce's maker to consider leaving the state?

Last week California health regulators ordered the makers of Sriracha hot sauce to suspend operations for 30 days. The 30-day hold comes despite the fact the product has been on the market for more than three decades and that “no recall has been ordered and no pathogenic bacteria have been found[.]”

The problem, reports the Pasadena Star News, is that Sriracha is a raw food.  “Because Sriracha is not cooked, only mashed and blended, Huy Fong needs to make sure its bottles won’t harbor dangerous bacteria,” writes the Star News.

Aren’t three decades of sales sufficient proof of that fact?

“The regulations outlining this process have been in existence for years,” writes California health department official Anita Gore, in a statement she sent to L.A. Weekly, “but the modified production requirements were established for the firm this year.”

In other words, the state changed the rules of the game.

Gore cites FDA regulations pertaining to acidified foods as a basis for her agency’s action.

And she writes this: “A scheduled process is the process that is adequate for use under conditions of manufacture for a food in achieving and maintaining a food that will not permit the growth of microorganisms having public health significance. It includes control of pH and other critical factors that may be established by a competent process authority.”

What in the name of all that is holy could Gore possibly mean by that?  “We cannot go into further detail about their process,” she explains, “as it is a trade secret and cannot be divulged.”

Thanks to the state-mandated shutdown, there’s now a national Sriracha shortage.

How did this happen? From every indication, Sriracha appears to epitomize the California foodie dream of turning fresh, local ingredients into something wonderful.

An L.A. Times piece on the product earlier this year reported that “each chili is processed within a day of harvesting to ensure peak spiciness.”

Is raw hot sauce like Sriracha some sort of nefarious new invention? Well, no.  The country’s most popular hot sauce, Louisiana’s ubiquitous Tabasco, is also made from raw ingredients, according to its website.

So if hot sauces are made using similar processes in other parts of the country, what's the big deal in California? The answer may lie in the company's increasingly sour relations with regulators.

Sriracha Rooster Sauce is made by Huy Fong Foods of Irwindale, Calif. The company’s name comes from the freighter that company founder David Tran boarded when he fled communist Vietnam. Huy Fong Foods announced its move to Irwindale three years ago. The L.A. Times reported at the time that the move into a new $40 million building would “spice up a bleak lot in Irwindale” that had been vacant for a decade.

The company planned to use the new facility to help ramp up sales fivefold, from $60 million per year to more than $300 million in annual sales.

The Irwindale plant began cranking out hot sauce in summer 2012. But complaints soon followed.

Neighbors said the smell from the plant was too pungent. The city, which had welcomed Huy Fong Foods, soon filed a nuisance lawsuit against the company.

A California judge ruled in October that the company could continue operating. A month later, the judge reversed his decision.

With the welcome mat seemingly no longer to be found in California, word has spread that Huy Fong is looking to leave the state. Rumors of a move to Philadelphia are swirling.

But before the company would consider such a move, they noted they’d want to “first research things like what the health department regulations are regarding acidized foods in Pennsylvania.”

Could Sriracha succeed outside California? Of course it could. The state needs Huy Fong Foods a lot more than the company needs California. After all, the nation’s growing love affair with Sriracha is well documented.

A 2009 N.Y. Times piece elegantly captured the origins and allure of Sriracha, calling it “an American sauce, a polyglot purée with roots in different places and peoples.”

As the Times reported, it had become a staple for everyone from high-end chefs to Walmart shoppers. The humor website The Oatmeal referred to Sriracha as “a delicious blessing flavored with the incandescent glow of a thousand dying suns.” Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin called it “the beloved ‘cock sauce.’” And frenzied consumers, including food TV celebrity Alton Brown, have been busily hoarding the stuff thanks to California regulators.

I’ve long marveled at California’s status as an unparalleled culinary innovator and agricultural powerhouse, while also lamenting the fact that the state’s uncanny obsession with ever more pervasive and stringent regulations could spell doom for its unrivaled food climate.

Sometimes the state throws out small hints it might not want to strangle each of its businesses in red tape. In October, I cited several such examples in noting that California regulators and lawmakers are “capable not just of recognizing the needless regulatory encumbrances that strict food laws place on its entrepreneurs but also of relieving some of those burdens.”

But then there’s this. And this. And this.

If Sriracha’s founder is forced to move the company outside the state due to nothing more than the baseless fervor of California regulators, then the state’s status as America’s culinary innovator won’t die today. It won't even die tomorrow. But I fear that the word “Sriracha” will be featured prominently in the state’s obituary, alongside the sad news that its pointless death was by its own hand.


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