Biggest Nanny State Moron of them All

Felix Ortiz, D-Brooklyn, wants to ban the use of salt in restaurants.

“No owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food for consumption by customers of such restaurant, including food prepared to be consumed on the premises of such restaurant or off of such premises,” the bill, A. 10129 , states in part.

But, is salt necessary for some cooking? Yes.

Salt is probably the most important seasoning in cooking. On its own, or when used to deliberately make something taste salty, salt’s flavor is quite distinct. But salt can also enhance the flavors of other ingredients without calling attention to itself. A light seasoning with salt can bring out flavor, smooth out bitterness, and make foods taste not salty, but more like themselves.

Salt also affects the way foods look and smell. Salt will help to preserve the green color in cooked vegetables when added to the cooking water. It has the same effect on cauliflower, keeping it from yellowing. Salt intensifies aromas, making them more apparent.

Pickling salt is used to enhance the flavor of pickles. It is simply table salt without the additives that can turn a pickling liquid cloudy. If you can’t find it, you can use table salt or sea salt, as long as it doesn’t have any additives.

Adding a pinch of salt to eggs is standard culinary practice, because the chemical reaction of salt with the fats and emulsifiers causes the egg to break down and smooth out quickly, making it more apt to combine with other ingredients.

Salt is an important ingredient in bread making. It adds taste, and inhibits yeast production, thus preserving the bread. It also contributes to the texture, having a toughening effect on gluten. However, salt, being a yeast inhibitor should never be added directly to the dissolved yeast.

Salt is an important ingredient in marinades. It draws the water out of the food being marinated, helping to concentrate the flavor of the food.

In other words, you will no longer be able to eat fresh baked bread in your favorite restaurant. No more pizza dough where the dough is made on the premises. The vegetables will look less appealing as well. And taste will likely be adversely impacted and I’m willing to bet that the typical response by most people will be to…add salt.

This article demonstrates what a blithering idiot Ortiz is, by the way, in Ortiz’ case does the D stand for Dimwit? If I were a Democrat I’d want this guy booted from the party.

Ortiz admits that prior to introducing the bill he did not research salt’s role in food chemistry, its effect on flavor or his bill’s ramifications for the restaurant industry. He tells me he was prompted to introduce the bill because his father used salt excessively for many years, developed high blood pressure and had a heart attack.

“I think salt should be banned in restaurants. I ask if a dish has salt in it, and if I does, I get something else that doesn’t have salt,” Ortiz tells me, before going on to say that he has eaten, and expects he will continue to eat, among other things, ham, cheese and bread in restaurants, all of which contain salt.

How about baking soda or baking powder? Those are types of salt, unless I’m mistaken. And what about MSG, no more Chinese restaurants either.

“That [bill is] insane,” says Christopher Allen Tanner, a culinary professor at Schenectady County Community College in Schenectady. “You can’t make hams without salt, you can’t make bacon without salt,” he tells me. “There would be no pickles, no relishes, no — no just about everything.”

FILED UNDER: Health, US Politics,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    At last we are in complete agreement.

    Granted that most restaurant food is crap, cooking is nevertheless an art form. A Ducasse, a Keller, a Trotter or an Achatz is a legitimate artist. (Geniuses in those four instances.) They have a right to express themselves in their art. It is no more the business of this ignoramus politician to tell a chef how to cook than it’s his business to tell a painter what color to use or a writer where to place a comma.

    How in God’s name would this imbecile justify outlawing the salted peanuts served at a bar serving tequila? Why salt and not butter? Why salt and not sugar? Why salt and not high-temperature cooking which produces carcinogens? Why salt and not a long list of foods known to cause occasional allergic reactions like shellfish, shrimp, peanuts or, in my personal case, mangos and cashews?

    This goes the moronic Chicago anti-foie gras ordinance one better, and chefs (including the above-mentioned Trotter, sadly,) who went along with it should see now where this leads.

    I hate guys like this. Where is he, I’ll slap the stupid twit with a bacon-wrapped bacala.

  2. Triumph says:

    Oh my god! How liberal!!!!

  3. steve says:

    Mastering salt in cooking is one the most important parts of good cooking. This guy is clueless. No salt, no barbecue.


  4. Mithras says:

    This is a man who has never turned on an oven. What a dope.

  5. Mike says:

    isn’t it silly bans like this that caused Cosmo Kramer to have to buy a showerhead out of the trunk of a car.

  6. Patrick says:

    I can’t think of anything dumber than this.

  7. Janis Gore says:

    Every time I see an article like this I want to cook chicken-fried steaks, cream gravy, mashed potatoes and mustard greens with hamhocks.

  8. Franklin says:

    Besides using too much salt, his father also raised a moron. I’d gladly contribute to any of Mr. Ortiz’s future opponents, I don’t care what letter they have after their name.

  9. Janis Gore says:

    Maybe his mother was a lousy cook and dad salted to ignore it.

  10. Brett says:

    This sounds like a combination of attention whoring and issue pushing by Ortiz, who is concerned over salt in food. There’s absolutely zero chance that this bill will ever get out of committee, not when it would put virtually every restaurant out of business in NY.

  11. Janis Gore says:

    Or it’s a razz. You wanna ban trans-fats, let’s do salt.

  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    I have a simple standard when it comes to allowable ingredients:

    Botulism? No? Then okay.

  13. JKB says:

    Okay, I see the pizza crust being a good example

    But I’m surprised no one has mentioned corned beef or pastrami. I was under the impression that the best NY delis made their own. For those unfamiliar, the “corned” in corned beef stands for corns of salt. We won’t even go to bagels and lox. Will the New Yorkers stand for the termination of their traditional fare?

    And of course, brining is a very tasty way to produce moist flavorful meat in turkeys, chickens, beef, etc.

    Most ironic is that diners will add far more salt at the table in hopes of making the salt-free dish palatable than would have been used to flavor the dish during cooking.

  14. floyd says:

    “”This is a man who has never turned on an oven. What a dope.””

    These are the same people who have no knowledge of automobile safety, driving or engineering.
    The same people who have no knowledge of medicine or medical practice.
    The same people who have no knowledge of doing a day’s work for a day’s wages.
    Why the indignation or surprise?
    Whaddaya bet he’s re-elected next cycle?

  15. john personna says:

    Salt is a necessary nutrient, isn’t it? We get some from our meat, but I’m pretty sure vegetarians require a supplement.

    (Trans-fats are nasty, and not necessary nutrients.)

  16. UlyssesUnbound says:


    I’ve never known a vegetarian to need a salt supplement. It is a nutrient, but not one we need too much of. The amount of salt that occurs in sauces, dressings, etcetera, is usually plenty for most vegetarians.

    I’ve even been told by my doctor to try to cut down on sodium, and I only eat meat about once or twice a year.

  17. PD Shaw says:

    John personna is right, you need salt.

    Salt, which is made up of 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride, is critical to your life. You can’t live without it. Sodium helps to maintain your blood’s water content, serves to balance the acids and bases in your blood, and is necessary for the movement of electrical charges in the nerves that move our muscles.

    Salt for Dummies

    People have died from lack of salt. It’s linked to deaths in British India as the result of a long-standing salt tax.

  18. john personna says:

    I am not a doctor, but I’ve heard (in bicycling magazines?) that if you’ve got good kidneys and drink lots of water, salt intake is “handled.”

    As an aside, my mountain bike pack has a good salt crust on it, all coming from my back, which is kind of a gross but satisfying confirmation that I do shed salt.

  19. floyd says:

    The issue is not… “How much salt is healthy?”
    The issue is … “Are people just too stupid to run their own lives?”
    Your government apparently believes the answer is “YES” to the latter.
    Election results seem to continually confirm the wisdom of that opinion.

  20. Grewgills says:

    We get some from our meat, but I’m pretty sure vegetarians require a supplement.

    Not if they eat bread or anything canned. If they are ovo lacto they will get plenty from eggs and dairy.

    Sodium is a necessary nutrient used for neurotransmission among other things, but anyone in the developed world gets plenty without ever adding it to their food.

    Also funny is that the bill does not specify which salts are banned. In the legal sense is the only salt NaCl?

  21. IIRC, the human body contains about eight ounces of salt which we excrete in urine, sweat, and tears. It has to be replaced somehow.

  22. Duracomm says:

    Just a reminder and food for thought.

    Idiot, ignorant, showboating politicians like this are the folks the democrats and their supporters want to put in charge of our health care.

    I’m sure nothing can go wrong with that plan.

  23. An Interested Party says:

    Idiot, ignorant, showboating politicians like this are the folks the democrats and their supporters want to put in charge of our health care.

    Umm, not really, but why let reality intrude on a frothing diatribe against Democrats…

  24. Duracomm says:

    An Interested Party,

    Your right, my mistake, we will be putting highly competent people at the federal level in charge of healthcare….. People like George Bush.

    Democrats must have really liked the way he handled FEMA and Katrina.

    Because they have decided the smart thing to do is to make sure the next George Bush caliber president would be in charge of their Healthcare.

  25. An Interested Party says:

    Umm, once again, not really….but why let reality intrude on a frothing diatribe against the federal government…

  26. Duracomm says:

    An Interested Party, repeating himself said,

    Umm, once again, not really….but why let reality intrude on a frothing diatribe against the federal government…

    So you are saying a massive bill federalizing health care is not going to leave a future George Bush caliber president in a position of having great impact on your healthcare system?

    That stance seems to be hopelessly naive.

  27. An Interested Party says:

    You proceed from a false assumption…HCR isn’t putting this president or any future president “in charge” of health care…just in case it might have slipped your notice, the current plans on the table do not socialize health care or even put some kind of single-payer system in place, but rather, try to expand care while working within the private insurance system of health care delivery…forget my supposedly “naive” stance…your stance isn’t based on reality…

  28. Steve Verdon says:

    I think I know what Duracomm is trying to say. By increasing the power of the federal government, for example like with health care, down the road we could end up with a president like George W. Bush who has that increased power. He could turn around and make certain things he finds objectionable no longer available. Maybe abortion or in vitro fertilization as two possible examples.

    It isn’t a partisan argument so much as an argument against granting ever increasing amounts of power to a system where time and again, we get mediocre people in charge. It is the same argument for why I oppose increasing use of SWAT units, as another example.

  29. Duracomm says:

    An Interested Party said,

    the current plans on the table do not socialize health care or even put some kind of single-payer system in place, but rather, try to expand care while working within the private insurance system of health care delivery..

    Need cite.

    Or not to be so cryptic the house has apparently hacked up a 2300 page bill this weekend.

    They want to vote on it by the end of the week.

    I doubt anyone knows what is in the bill at this point and your comment in block quotes is simple naive wishful thinking.

    The bill can’t be analyzed in the voting timeline the democrats want. So essentially politicians will be voting for a bill having no real idea of what it contains.

    That is recklessly irresponsible.

    I am quite confident that there are several provisions within those 2300 pages that will have nasty unintended consequences.

    The end result is quite likely to be an increase in healthcare costs and a decrease in healthcare quality.