October 13 (NWN) – On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration released new guidance in which food manufacturers and restaurants across the country are encouraged to cut their salt intake by a couple of years to lower Americans’ sodium intake.
The recommendations are aimed at reducing the average salt intake of Americans by about 12% – from 3,400 milligrams per day to 3,000 milligrams per day – over the next two and a half years.
The guidance is part of a gradual approach the FDA is taking to bring sodium intake closer to the dietary recommendation of 2,300 mg per day for people over the age of 14. The regulator expects to publish revised targets in the future to gradually reduce sodium intake.
“By limiting certain nutrients, such as sodium, in our diets, we can help prevent diseases such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease, which disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minority groups, often resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and annual costs. on healthcare, ”FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock and Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition director Susan Maine said in a statement.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these health imbalances and the need for better nutrition, as people with cardiovascular disease and other comorbid conditions are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes.”
The recommendations are voluntary, but Woodcock and Maine expressed the hope that these efforts will become “one of the most significant public health interventions in nutrition in recent years.”
The FDA says packaged, processed, and restaurant foods account for about 70% of all sodium consumed in the United States. The new guidelines propose targets for 163 categories of processed, packaged and prepared foods.
Several food manufacturers have started making changes to the sodium content of their products after the guidelines were first proposed in 2016.
Industry groups such as the American Frozen Food Institute are working with the FDA to reduce sodium intake.
“Our members have made and continue to take steps to reduce the sodium content of their products by offering a variety of products to meet consumer needs,” AFFI said in a statement.
“While sodium reduction is challenging due to its role in food safety and security, manufacturing capability and, importantly, consumer palatability, frozen food manufacturers look forward to working with the FDA to make progress towards achieving these sodium reduction goals ”.
Peter Lurie, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said FDA guidance provides “clear and achievable yardsticks by which health officials and watchdog groups such as the CSPI can track the progress that companies and brands are making.”
In 2005, the center petitioned the FDA to restrict the use of salt in processed foods, and in 2015 sued the agency for inaction.
Lurie welcomed the move and urged the FDA to set more ambitious and long-term goals.