The next Obamacare target: Your bacon sandwich 

Are you prepared to go from the supermarket to the black market for your bacon?

The Food and Drug Administration is preparing to lower the boom on sodium content in American food. And companies are scrambling to lower the salt levels in their products in advance of the new rules.

The target is not really your BLT, but instead the huge piles of sodium that are used to make otherwise inedible processed food pass for something good to eat.

It is cheaper for the food industry to fool your palate with flavor additives than use good ingredients. So, for example, the Nature Valley granola bar you feel so good about tucking into Junior's lunch bag contains three quarters as much salt as a strip of that crispy but still chewy bacon that he could have had instead.

And because the average American eats so much processed junk, he is eating way too much salt-- about 50 percent more than dietitians recommend.

Don't worry about adding a few grains of Morton's kosher salt to your scrambled eggs, but do read the back of that Starbucks Frappucino you bought at the convenience store (7 percent of your daily sodium).

In the end, the salty and the sweet will be carted off in Michelle Obama's great food roundup. The rules are being worked out with the producers so that consumers won't notice any big shift, but one day it will be illegal to sell food that exceeds federal standards for saltiness.

There are already strict rules about labeling that Americans are becoming pretty adept at using. The growing popularity of diets in which people count carbohydrates, fat and calories would not be possible without the labels.

And as a result of the president's national health care program, the same kind of information will have to be prominently displayed in chain restaurants. While it may not prevent drunks from wolfing down a Cheesy Gordita Crunch Supreme at 2 a.m., sober people will have a chance to spare their bodies the punishment.

There's good reason to think that the labeling movement is working. While people still crunch a bag of Doritos every day with their lunch, they now know they're doing something naughty.

But that hasn't been working fast enough to suit the first lady and others in the obesity crusade. And by limiting sodium contents, the goal is to make junk food less tasty and, by extension, less delicious compared with the organic, locally grown rhubarb you're supposed to be chomping.

When your breakfast plate doesn't pack the same wallop that it used to and your pappardelle con prosciutto goes from larapin to blase, remember why. It's because you can't be trusted to use high-sodium food responsibly.

Do-gooder groups are thrilled because after decades of failing to scare people off salt, the government will simply turn it into a controlled substance. They claim that thousands of lives will be saved from decreased incidence of high blood pressure and hail the move as a blow against Big Food.

More likely, Big Food will be able to use the regulations they help design to dominate the market even more. They are already spending millions to find new chemical compounds that keep the foods yummy but skirt the new sodium prohibition.

The local potato chip maker whose greasy treats taste divine will find that they can't afford Frito Lay's Space Age salt substitute. Mom and Pop will have to sell chips that taste like a fried dishrag and eventually close.

But they will be casualties in a larger war that doesn't have as much to do with salt or wellness or even obesity.

The regulatory battleground of the decades to come is going to be your body. How much sugar, salt, fat and everything else you put in your body will be a matter of great federal interest.

Barring the success of lawsuits or huge gains by Republicans this fall, the president's health program will be imposed in pieces over the next four years. By the end, the government will have a fiduciary interest in the waistlines and cholesterol counts of every American.

As the most unaffordable aspects of the Obama plan come on line, expect more dietary restrictions as the government looks for ways to control the enormous costs related to unhealthy habits.

For decades, insurance companies have tried to get their customers to quit drinking and smoking and to slim down and exercise.

But imagine what they could have done if they had the power to simply outlaw behavior that drove up costs.

Taking away your bacon will be deemed a small price for helping cover the Obamacare deficit.

Chris Stirewalt is the political editor of the Washington Examiner. He can be reached at

About The Author

Chris Stirewalt


Washington Examiner Political Editor Chris Stirewalt, who coordinates political coverage for the newspaper and in addition to writing a twice-weekly column and
regular blog posts.

Pin It

Speaking of...

More by Chris Stirewalt

Latest in Nation

© 2018 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation