WASHINGTON — Morton Satin, director of technical and regulatory affairs for the Salt Institute, challenged the New York City Salt Reduction Initiative, stating that the effort is based on false premise and shaky science.

“While no one doubts that a certain proportion of our population may experience modest blood pressure declines from salt reduction, it has by no means been scientifically established that a population-wide reduction will benefit health outcomes,” he said. “Indeed, the literature abounds with references alluding to possible harm for some. Salt is a natural, necessary nutrient that has been used for thousands of years and in some cases reducing sodium consumption can have very negative consequences.”

Mr. Satin added that his chief concern is the potential harm from unintended consequences, including introduction of salt replacers.

“Research shows that over the past 30 years the only country that has ever reduced its salt consumption is Finland,” he said. “However, when comparing the cardiovascular performance and increases in longevity of Finland over the last 30 years to all of its neighbors, as well as to the U.S. and Canada — countries that did not drop sodium consumption — it is instructive that Finland's performance has been the worst of all. The only conclusion that can be made is that salt reduction doesn’t provide any positive health benefits and may diminish benefits when it relates to diet.

“Before we subject a generation of consumers to one of the largest clinical trials ever carried out, without their knowledge and without their consent, I ask health officials to use their talent, training and common sense to place this whole matter into perspective,” he said.