A Question That's Too Salty

I got an email yesterday from Alan Abramowitz flagging this question released Monday by Rasmussen Reports from an automated survey of American adults (not likely voters):

Some public health groups are urging the FDA to set mandatory standards for how much salt is allowed in food. Should the government set limits on how much salt Americans can eat?

33% Yes

55% No

12% Not sure

The government setting limits on how much salt we can eat? Is that what "some public health groups" are urging? Not quite.

Here's the story as reported in last week's Washington Post (emphasis added):

Two members of Congress urged the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday to move quickly to limit the amount of salt in processed foods, calling the matter a "public health crisis" that demanded a swift response from government.


Their comments came after the release Tuesday of a report of experts, convened by the Institute of Medicine, that found that most Americans are consuming dangerous levels of sodium and that voluntary efforts by the food industry to reduce salt have failed. The report recommended that the FDA immediately launch efforts to limit salt levels over a period of years to allow consumers to adjust to less salty food.

The Institute of Medicine is proposing to limit the amount of salt in processed food. No one is urging the government to restrict the sale of salt or "set limits on how much salt Americans can eat." Even if "public health groups" got their way, anyone could still choose to salt their food as much as they want.

It would be interesting to see how Americans react to the idea of the government limiting the salt levels allowed in processed foods. Unfortunately, that's not the question that Rasmussen asked.

See a poll question that's similarly leading or biased? Drop us an email.