Thursday, 17 September 2009

The great salt ban

The other day I was chatting with a friend who has recently got a job as a cook in a small primary school. I asked her how it was going. She told me about making macaroni cheese following the ‘official’ recipe, and told me that it was pretty tasteless. It turned out that in the official recipe, no salt was added to the cheese sauce. Indeed, adding salt was not allowed.

I expressed surprise, and she then told me that she was not allowed to add salt when boiling potatoes or rice. My eyes grew rounder as my astonishment grew. I asked if there was salt on the table, and was told that there wasn’t. I, in my innocence, thought that everyone added salt when boiling potatoes or rice - and that omitting the salt was a major error. I don’t like my food salty, but potatoes or rice without salt really is pretty tasteless. I had always assumed that the quality of food in British schools was improving. It seems that I was sadly mistaken.

Yes - the country is in the grip of a great salt panic. Yet salt is actually a necessary part of the human diet. And further more, not all scientists are convinced that high sodium levels are linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. And the amount of sodium that would be added to the diet by putting salt in the water when boiling rice or potatoes is fairly small. And yet the war on salt continues unabated - and not just in terms of propaganda, but also in terms of legislation.

Politicians are now so determined to micro-manage all aspects of life, that they even ban school cooks from adding salt when they boil rice and potatoes.

Good grief.

Post Script: See this good article in The Times, which includes the following quote: "Catherine Collins, chief dietician at St George’s Hospital in London, . . . believes the current pressure to restrict salt in the diet as much as possible is unnecessary and potentially risky. "


JonnyN said...

What goes into school macaroni could hardly be described as cheese, or at least it couldn't be in the 80s. It was more like 200 degree yellow plastic that seemed to retain its heat even when the surrounding pasta was sickeningly lukewarm. Eating salt on its own would be more appetizing.

Stewart Cowan said...

Meanwhile, kiddies' drinks, snacks and chewing gum contain aspartame.

Aspartame causes tumours in rats: