By: Umme Kulsum
September 12 2023
Screenshot of the social media posts claiming that FDA wants to replace salt with Bill Gates' new fake mRNA salt (Source: Facebook, X/Screenshots)
The FDA has only proposed allowing salt substitutes in some food items to help consumers reduce sodium content. It is not planning to replace salt.
What’s the claim?
Posts circulating on social media claim that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to replace salt with "mRNA fake salt." A post on Facebook contains a link to an article from Planet Today, a conspiracy news website, with the headline: "FDA Wants To Replace Salt With Bill Gates' New mRNA Fake Salt." The Facebook post (Archive here) was captioned, “What a surprise! Eat Natural Salt only !!! So GMO food, Poisons in the Water and Air, now Salt attempted.”
The article shared in the post claims that the FDA plans to replace most salt in America with a new synthetic "salt substitute" produced by Bill Gates that will be “laced with mRNA chemicals.” The article also claims that “fake salt companies, such as Nu-Salt or Morton's, are both funded by Bill Gates” and are “dangerous substitutes” that “typically employ potassium chloride, MSG and other dangerous chemicals to mimic the flavor of real salt.”
However, this is incorrect. The FDA document referred to in the article does not make any mention of "mRNA salt.” Also, the substitute for salt does not necessarily mean “fake salt.”
The article also claims that the alternatives to salt will be potassium chloride and Monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is also not true.
The claim originated from an August 26 article by The People’s Voice, a website known for spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories, with the same title.
Screenshot of the viral claim made online (Source: Facebook/Screenshot)
What did we find?
Logically Facts found that the FDA has only proposed to allow salt substitutes in standardised food to reduce sodium content. Standardized food refers to packaged food items containing ingredients specified by the FDA under their standards of identity (SOIs) which outline the ingredients a product must have. The FDA states that "Products like milk, milk chocolate, various breads, peanut butter, and ketchup have a SOI."
In March 2023, the FDA proposed changes to the SOIs for foods that include salt. In April 2023, the FDA published an article that proposes amending SOIs to allow “industry innovation in the production of standardized foods” to “reduce sodium content in them and to help consumers gradually reduce their sodium intake to support a healthier food supply.”
This does not mean that the FDA is mandating the use of salt substitutes by manufacturers. This proposal, published in the Federal Register, clearly mentions, "The proposed rule would permit, but not require, manufacturers to use salt substitutes to replace salt where salt is a required or optional ingredient in standardized foods."
The FDA states that this proposed rule is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. This rule has not been finalized and is in the proposition stage at this time.
FDA spokesperson Enrico Dinges told Logically Facts, "The FDA is not proposing to replace salt with any specific substitute. In April 2023, the FDA issued a proposed rule to amend the standards of identity (SOIs) to permit the use of salt substitutes in foods for which salt is a required or optional ingredient. The proposed rule would provide manufacturers with flexibility and facilitate industry innovation to reduce sodium in standardized foods. The proposed rule does not list permitted salt substitutes; however, it makes clear that safe and suitable ingredients should be used to replace some or all of the added sodium chloride and that serve the functions of salt in food."
All salt is not being replaced
The proposed regulations only apply to standardized foods, not to table salt. The FDA is not modifying the regulations for packaged table salt, so people can still choose which salt they want to consume. The FDA states the majority of sodium consumed comes from processed, packaged, and prepared foods, not from table salt added to food when cooking or eating.
According to a report by the FDA titled “Sodium in Your Diet,” consuming too much sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Reduced sodium intake is anticipated to lower blood pressure and may lead to fewer incidences of heart disease and stroke.
Is Bill Gates funding “fake salt” to be used as a substitute?
The claim that Bill Gates is funding the salt substitute companies Nu-Tek and Morton Salt is also unverified. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, in 2012, Nu-Tek announced the expansion of its firm through financing from Khosla Ventures, and Bill Gates is a limited partner at Khosla Venture. According to Forbes, a limited partner is someone who invests in a company but has no control over its business operations. There is no report or credible source confirming that Bill Gates is funding Nu-Tek. Also, there is no evidence that Gates finances Morton Salt.
The proposed rule to replace salt in packaged foods with salt substitutes is not yet finalized; it is merely a proposal to help reduce sodium content. It does not mandate manufacturers to replace salt in standardized foods with alleged “fake mRNA salt.” Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.
Editor's note: This article was updated on 19 September to add comment from FDA spokesperson Enricos Dinges.