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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke October 5, 2023

You can pass the salt: Bill Gates and the FDA aren’t coming for it

If Your Time is short

  • The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a rule that would allow salt substitutes in products that use salt, but it’s not requiring such a change, and it’s not connected to philanthropist and Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates or mRNA.

A headline being shared on social media reads like a misinformation Mad Lib: "FDA wants to replace salt with Bill Gates’ new mRNA fake salt." 

An Instagram post sharing it was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

A statement from the Food and Drug Administration said the claim is "fake."

In April 2023, the FDA issued a proposed rule to amend its "standards of identity" to allow the use of salt substitutes in foods that use salt.

The FDA’s standards of identity were first established in 1939 to "ensure that the characteristics, ingredients and production processes of specific foods are consistent with what consumers expect," according to the agency’s website

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Consider jams that contain fruits. Because some such products once contained "little fruit," according to the FDA, the standards of identity for fruit preserves and jams require that products represented as jam contain a minimum amount of fruit.

But back to salt.

"The proposed rule would provide manufacturers with flexibility and facilitate industry innovation to reduce sodium in standardized foods," said the statement the FDA sent to PolitiFact. "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."

Information about the proposed rule on the FDA’s website says, "The proposal would not require manufacturers to replace salt with salt substitutes." 

It mentions neither mRNA nor Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates.

We rate this post False.

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You can pass the salt: Bill Gates and the FDA aren’t coming for it

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