Junkfood Science: This wasn’t meant to be a Sunday funny

June 29, 2008

This wasn’t meant to be a Sunday funny

You’ll never guess the latest idea enacted by public officials to get people to eat less salt.

Gateshead Council in the UK came up with what they believe the solution to getting people to reduce their salt intake: Salt shakers with fewer holes!

They commissioned a company (at taxpayer expense) to make salt shakers with fewer holes and are giving them away to fast food restaurants. As the Daily Mail reports:

Now health and safety cut number of holes in chip shop salt shakers

Pot-holed roads, crumbling schools, litter-strewn streets – there’s no shortage of problem areas crying out for their attention. But councils believe they have found a better use for their money: reducing the number of holes in chip shop salt shakers... They decided that the five-hole pots would reduce the amount of salt being used by more than 60 per cent yet give a ‘visually acceptable sprinkling’ that would satisfy the customer. The council commissioned Drywite Ltd – a catering equipment company based in the West Midlands – to make five-hole shakers and bought 1,000 of them at a cost of £2,000, giving them away to fast-food outlets in their areas...

Cllr Chris Hobson, leader of the Conservatives, said: ‘This is just silly, a total waste of money in an area where council tax is very high... [People will] just shake it for longer.’ Beryl Scott, who owns the Chipchase Chippy in Linthorpe in the city, said a council worker had visited the previous week to explain the merits of less salty fish and chips... I thought it was a joke. It doesn’t matter how many holes it has, people are going to put on as much salt as they want. Another local chip shop owner [said] ‘In fact, we have had some people unscrewing the lids to do so.’

Gateshead Council defended its decision... ‘We believe the cost to be a small price to pay for potentially saving lives.’ The scheme is being promoted by the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services... [whose] spokesman said: ‘Heart disease costs taxpayers £7billion a year so to say that projects such as this are a waste of money is mind-boggling.’

The LACORS (the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services) is the organization that coordinates councils’ food safety regulations. Just last month, it launched measures to mandate that salt, sugar and fats in food be within acceptable levels to tackle obesity. Among their chief initiatives is to lobby for Traffic Light food labels.

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