The Impact of Refrigeration on Salt Intakes

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Salt intake varies widely across the world. Some agricultural communities, e.g., the Yanomano Indians from Brazil and the Chimbus of New Guinea, do not consume salt other than that found in natural food sources. The Kamtschadales and the Tungouses nomadic tribes from the north of Russia and Siberia are also averse to added salt, whereas the Japanese have traditionally consumed large quantities of salt in pickled salted fish and vegetables.

Without some form of food preservation it would be impossible to supply urban populations with food in any systematic way. Refrigerators were introduced on a mass scale from the 1960s onwards and this was accompanied by a fall in salt consumption in most countries (Table 2); refrigeration has taken over from salting as a method of preserving food. In Japan, intakes as high as the 60-g intake of a farmer recorded in 1955 and the average of 27-30 gday-1 had fallen dramatically to 8-15 g day"1 by 1988. In the US, salt intake probably started to decline in the 1920s as refrigerators became widely available.

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