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Rick Perry Boldly Stands Against Imaginary Threat Toward Salt Shakers

It looks like salt may be the next weapon government won't be able to pry out of conservatives' cold, dead hands.

Tea was the symbolic foodstuff of the just-finished election cycle, but recent comments from Governor Rick Perry suggest it could be supplanted by salt as the Republicans ready for a run at the White House.

"We are tired of being told how much salt we can put in our food," Perry writes in his new book Fed Up.

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank this week questioned Perry's nanny state complaints, asking him to clarify who was telling him to take it easy with the salt shaker. As Milbank wrote in his column this morning, Perry couldn't cite an exact source: "Um, when you read this book, the footnote is there, and it's clearly a, um, case, I don't know the exact, uh, page, but it is footnoted, very well."

Milbank couldn't find a footnote attached to the claim in Perry's book. But the PolitiFact.com team sought documentation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and discovered there aren't any laws regulating how much salt Americans are allowed to eat.

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According to PolitiFact, "An agency has been exploring ways to reduce sodium in the food supply and federal dietary guidelines recommend consuming less than 2,300 milligrams, or about 1 teaspoon, of sodium per day. But government isn't telling anyone how much salt to sprinkle."

In Perry's defense, perhaps he was riled up by New York City this year asking restaurants to voluntarily reduce the amount of salt in their products. Or maybe he was infuriated by local-level directives requiring school cafeterias to serve lower-sodium food to children.

A study of school lunches in New York City earlier this year revealed students are routinely fed extremely salty foods, such as a cheese sandwich with 1,160 mg sodium, or half the daily recommended allowance. Too much salt puts children at risk of developing an array of health ailments: Excessive sodium intake has been linked to hypertension, asthma, osteoporosis and stomach cancer -- which means if salty libertarians have their way, they won't be the only ones with cold, dead hands.

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