The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday established new food industry guidelines to reduce salt in processed and packaged foods such as margarine and hash browns, noting the “burden of chronic disease” nationwide .
The finalized guide targets 163 categories of processed, packaged and prepared foods and offers voluntary short-term goals for reducing the amount of salt people eat.
The goal is to reduce average salt intake from about 3,400 mg to 3,000 mg per day, or about 12%, over the next 2.5 years.
“As a nation, we face a growing epidemic of preventable diet-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, and the agency’s work in this area has become even more urgent,” said Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the FDA, and Susan Mayne. , director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a statement.
“Limiting certain nutrients, such as sodium, in our diets plays a crucial role in preventing diseases such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease which have a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minority groups; these diseases often result in hundreds of thousands of lives lost and billions in annual health care spending, ”they said.
The reduced average salt intake would still be above the recommended dietary limit of 2,300 mg per day for those 14 and older, but the FDA has noted that even modest reductions made over time can significantly reduce diet-related illness.
People consume 50% more sodium than recommended, the FDA said, adding that more than 95% of children between the ages of 2 and 13 consume too much salt.
Most salt intake comes from packaged, processed foods and restaurants, making it difficult for people to reduce their sodium intake.
The directions cover cream cheese, dressing, vegetables on the shelf, instant potatoes, restaurant soup, soy sauce, gravy, ketchup, instant cereals, white bread, donuts and hot dogs, among other food categories.
The FDA has said changes in the overall food supply will make low-sodium options more accessible and reduce salt intake even if people don’t change their eating behaviors.
The agency said it plans to gradually reduce the salt content of the food supply to allow time for people’s tastes to adjust. He noted that similar voluntary and incremental approaches have worked in other countries, including Canada and the UK.
Federal regulators initially proposed to reduce the salt content in 2016. Some companies in the food industry have already made efforts to reduce sodium levels in their products, but the FDA said more industry support was necessary.
The Food Industry Association (IMF) said it welcomes the FDA’s new guidelines to reduce salt content and its decision to extend the time frame for companies to 2.5 years to meet targets.
“The food industry works tirelessly to provide a consumer market full of healthy, accessible and nutritious food choices and information to support healthy eating habits for all consumers,” the IMF said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the American Frozen Food Institute said its members already have a line of low-salt products, whether they’re sodium-reduced or lightly salty or salt-free options.
However, some food companies have resisted salt reduction targets, although there is more emerging scientific evidence to support federal sodium guidelines, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Sodium, told The Associated Press. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
Researchers in China have found that people who used low-sodium salt substitutes rather than regular salt had lower rates of strokes and major cardiovascular events, according to a study published last month.
A 2019 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that a recommended sodium limit was linked to a reduced risk of chronic disease.
The FDA has said consumers can take steps to reduce their salt intake on their own by reading food labels, choosing sodium-reduced options, asking restaurant chains for nutritional information, and looking at their food labels. health care providers regarding nutritional recommendations.
• This story is based in part on press service reports.