Feeling… Salty? Guidance for Sodium Reduction

On Oct. 13, FDA released a guidance document providing voluntary short-term sodium reduction targets for food manufacturers, chain restaurants and food service operators in a variety of the foods they produce or serve. The guidance is a way for the agency to advance the Administration’s approach to nutrition and health, while hopefully improving future health outcomes.

The Daily Reference Value (DRV) established for sodium is currently at 2,300 mg per day for adults. FDA found that adults are consuming nearly 50 percent more sodium than that recommendation. Our younger populations are also consuming excess sodium, with more than 95 percent of children aged 2 to 13 years old exceeding recommended limits of sodium for their age groups. Approximately 70 percent of the sodium that we eat comes from packaged, processed, and restaurant foods, which makes it a challenge to limit intake in our diets.

This new FDA guidance establishes voluntary short-term sodium reduction targets for food manufacturers, chain restaurants, and food service operators for 163 categories of these types of foods. FDA seeks to decrease the average sodium intake from 3,400 mg/day to 3,000 mg/day, which is about a 12 percent reduction in the next two and a half years. The guidance outlines short-term goals that FDA would like the food industry to work to meet as soon as possible to help optimize public health. In the future, FDA plans to issue revised, subsequent targets to further lower the sodium content incrementally and continue to help reduce sodium intake. Voluntary and gradual approaches like this have also been successful in other countries, including Canada and the U.K.

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