MEXICO CITY - About 200,000 restaurants, taverns and cafés in the Mexican capital removed saltshakers from their tables – permanently – on April 4.

The move, reports El Universal, is part of an effort to raise awareness on the dangers of a high sodium diet and its correlation to hypertension and other diseases prevalent in Mexican society.

When Armando Ahued, Mexico City’s Secretary of Health launched the “Less salt, more health” campaign on April 4, he assured restaurant owners that there would be no sanctions against establishment offering salt with their food.

He said he hoped that removing shakers from the table would help reduce the habit people have of salting their food before they even tasting it. If people need salt once they’ve tasted their meal, he added, they can just ask a waiter and salt will be provided!

According to Ahued, the World Health Organization recommends a daily consumption of 5 grams of salt per day, but in Mexico the average personal consumption is between 11 and 12 grams.

He said that one of the consequences of this high sodium intake is that 31% of the Mexican population has arterial hypertension, which combined with other diseases such as obesity and diabetes, causes cardiac attacks, strokes and death, reports El Universal.

Joel Estrada, Chief Cardiologist at the Siglo XXI Medical Center, concurred, saying that by removing saltshakers from tables in restaurants and at home, excessive salt consumption could be reduced by a whopping 50%. 

Salt and pepper shakers in Mexico. Photo Phrawr