Did Morton develop iodized salt?

The Morton Salt Company of Chicago claims it was responsible for the introduction of iodized salt to prevent goiter. But that’s not accurate. Here’s what the company’s website says: “Because goiters were a common condition, Morton develops iodized salt, which addresses the problem.”

Actually, the company declined to get involved in the manufacture of iodized salt, according to a letter the company wrote in 1923 to Michigan pediatrician David Murray Cowie who was spearheading the campaign to iodize salt. The company’s Treasurer explained that it would be a “difficult problem” to keep its iodized salt separate from non-iodized salt and suggested that the challenge of manufacturing iodized salt “should more properly belong to the large pharmaceutical companies.”

However, after the successful introduction of iodized salt by local Michigan salt companies, Morton realized there was a national market for the product and quickly started selling its own brand of iodized salt nationwide in the fall of 1924. Since the company was the most popular national brand, this had a huge impact. But Morton didn’t develop iodized salt.

Source: Howard Markel. “When it rains it pours”: endemic goiter, iodized salt, and David Murray Cowie, MD. Am J Public Health. 1987 February; 77(2): 219–229. (full-text)

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