The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) this week reopened its 1983 lawsuit asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to rule on the safety of salt. Currently, the official status of salt is "Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)," which is a regulatory category reserved for foods that have been used for many years and which are safe. While it is true that salt has been used for many thousands of years, it is also true that the food additive is generally recognized as unsafe, mainly because of its association with high blood pressure and strokes, which are a leading cause of death. For example, see the Dietary Guidelines or any other authoritative scientific statement.
FDA regulators should tread carefully with salt, because salt is an important food ingredient, and important issues of personal freedom of choice are at stake here. On the other hand, the actual text of the CSPI suit is quite mild -- it "seeks an order directing FDA to publish in the Federal Register a proposed rule either affirming or denying the 'GRAS' ('generally recognized as safe') status of salt and providing an opportunity for comment on that proposal. Without the Court's intervention, FDA will almost certainly continue to delay. Because the millions of Americans at risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease are paying for FDA's delay with their health, the Court should compel FDA to take prompt action."