October 13 (News) – The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday issued comprehensive new guidelines urging food manufacturers and restaurants across the country to cut down on salt consumption for a couple of years in an attempt to cut down on Americans’ sodium intake.
The guidelines aim to reduce Americans’ average salt intake by about 12% over the next two and a half years – from 3,400 milligrams per day to 3,000 mg per day.
The guidelines are part of a step-by-step approach by the FDA to bring sodium consumption closer to the nutritional guidelines of 2,300 mg per day for people over 14. The regulator expects to issue revised targets in the future to gradually reduce sodium intake.
“By limiting certain nutrients such as sodium in our diet, we can help prevent diseases such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, which disproportionately affect ethnic and ethnic minorities and often result in hundreds of thousands of lives and billions in annual healthcare costs.” Commissioner Janet Woodcock and Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Director Susan Mayne said in a statement.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these health disparities and the need for improved diets as people with cardiovascular disease and other underlying diseases are at increased risk of serious consequences from COVID-19.”
The guidelines are voluntary, but Woodcock and Mayne hope the effort will become “one of the most significant public health nutritional interventions in a generation.”
The FDA says packaged, processed, and restaurant foods make up about 70% of all sodium consumed in the United States. The new guidelines provide targets for 163 categories of processed, packaged and prepared food.
Some food manufacturers started changing the sodium levels in their products after the recommendations were first proposed in 2016.
Industry groups like the American Frozen Food Institute are working with the FDA to reduce sodium intake.
“Our members have and will continue to make efforts to reduce the sodium content of their foods by offering a variety of products to meet consumer demands,” said a statement from the AFFI.
“While sodium reduction is complex because of its role in food safety and preservation, the skills of the industry, and most importantly, consumer taste buds, the frozen food industry looks forward to working with the FDA to make progress towards these sodium reduction goals.”
Peter Lurie, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said the FDA guidance provides “clear and achievable benchmarks that public health officials and monitoring groups like CSPI can use to monitor the progress of companies and brands.”
The center filed with the FDA to restrict salt in processed foods in 2005 and sued the agency in 2015 for failing to take action.
Lurie welcomed the move and called on the FDA to set more ambitious, long-term goals.