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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued draft guidance for public comment that provides “practical, voluntary” sodium reduction targets for the food industry. The short-term (two-year) and long-term (10-year) targets are intended to help the American public gradually reduce sodium intake from 3,400 to 2,300 milligrams per day, a level recommended by experts and scientific evidence. The targets are also intended to complement many existing efforts by food manufacturers, restaurants and foodservice operations to reduce sodium in foods.
Included in the draft guidance is a common system for defining and measuring progress on reducing sodium in the U.S. food supply, FDA explained. The approach is to establish reasonable, voluntary reduction targets for the majority of processed and prepared foods, placing foods in nearly 150 categories, from bakery products to soups. The draft targets factor in data on consumer preferences, as well as current industry efforts to reduce sodium.
FDA said it's especially encouraging adoption by food manufacturers with products that make up a significant portion of national sales in one or more categories. The agency estimates that fewer than 10 percent of packaged foods account for more than 80 percent of sales.
“Many Americans want to reduce sodium in their diets, but that’s hard to do when much of it is in everyday products we buy in stores and restaurants,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said. “Today’s announcement is about putting power back in the hands of consumers, so that they can better control how much salt is in the food they eat and improve their health.”
Currently, Americans consume almost 50 percent more sodium than what many experts recommend, according to FDA, with a majority of sodium intake coming from processed and prepared foods. Science shows that when sodium intake increases, so does blood pressure, which could lead to heart disease or a stroke. In some Centers for Disease Control studies, researchers estimated that lowering U.S. sodium intake by about 40 percent over the next decade could save 500,000 lives and nearly $100 billion in health care costs.