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Restaurants Cutting Back On Salt, But Will Diners Notice?

Fast food and gourmet restaurants alike are now cutting back on their foods’ sodium content, foreseeing new federal rules that would come up. But they’re not letting customers know about it; for fear that diners will automatically say that their food is bland without even tasting it first.

Taco Bell has cut off 20% of sodium on its menu, El Torito has eliminated 30% of salt on its marinades and sauces, and Carl’s Jr. has slashed off 20% of the mineral from their hamburger buns.

Restaurants are initiating this move because they think that salt reduction is the next legislative requisite that would come out. Companies throughout the restaurant industry are now scuttling to cut back, so they will not be caught by surprise when officials decide to act fast.

But this move that restaurants have is one that we can call a reverse public relations pursuit – they do not want customers to notice. They do not want diners to detect the change, as they have learned from what happened to Campbell Soup Co. a few years back — the American producer of canned soups reduced sodium in its goods a little too publicly and experienced a fall in sales in the recent years.

Americans love salt for the very simple reason that we love food. And salt is what makes food taste good. It is considered as the great flavor enhancer that opens up the taste buds. Some chefs in their stylish chef uniforms say it’s like cocaine for the palate – a white powder that allows everything that our mouth comes across seems vibrant and pleasurable.

One explanation why people use it so much is because unlike sugar which has its substitutes Sweet’n Low, Splenda and NutraSweet, there is no workable substitute that has been developed for salt yet. Combine this fact with the American people’s love for this mineral and we get an excessive sodium consumption which the government now wants to control for our own good.

We do need salt for our health, as small quantities of sodium are essential to our body. All of our body fluids have sodium, including blood, and it holds an important role in keeping our body’s fluid balance. It is crucial that our body be capable of regulating the sodium level in our blood. Sodium is also needed in spawning electrical impulses in our nerves and muscles and in our body’s ability to uptake nutrients.

Our health authorities’ initiative to reduce our intake of salt sprung from studies that indicated that excessive salt consumption causes hypertension, osteoporosis and stomach cancer. While hypertension is often symptomless, it is known to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

So how much salt do we need per day? The CDC recommends 1500mg for adults. Easy thing to do, if not for the three-quarters of salt we consume in all the other foods that we eat in a day, including our dine-outs at restaurants.

And some restaurants are now taking care of that. With the inventiveness and resourcefulness of this country’s seasoned chefs in their elegant chef uniforms, we’re quite certain that we can have our cake and eat it too. Less sodium, delicious food; healthier body, dazzling dine-outs.