FDA announces plan to tamp down sodium consumption in U.S. diets

FDA announces plan to tamp down sodium consumption in U.S. diets

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is out with final guidance titled: “Voluntary Sodium Reduction Goals: Target Mean and Upper Bound Concentrations for Sodium in Commercially Processed, Packaged, and Prepared Foods,” which provides voluntary short-term sodium reduction targets for food manufacturers, chain restaurants and foodservice operators for 163 categories of processed, packaged and prepared foods.

The guidance is the latest step the agency is taking to advance the Administration’s whole-of-government approach to nutrition and health and improve future health outcomes.

By limiting certain nutrients like sodium, it can help prevent diseases like hypertension and cardiovascular disease that disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minority groups, often resulting in hundreds of thousands of lives lost and billions in annual health care costs. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified these health disparities and the need for improved nutrition, as people with cardiovascular disease and other underlying conditions are at increased risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19.

This guidance is intended to provide measurable voluntary short-term (2.5-year) goals for sodium content in commercially processed, packaged, and prepared foods to reduce excess population sodium intake, while recognizing and supporting the important roles sodium plays in food technology and food safety.

Sodium is widely present in the American diet — most commonly, but not exclusively, as a result of eating or drinking foods to which sodium chloride, commonly referred to as “salt,” has been added. More than 70 percent of total sodium intake is from sodium added during food manufacturing and commercial food preparation.

The average sodium intake in the U.S. is approximately 3,400 milligrams/day (mg/day). The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 advises people 14 years and older to limit their consumption to 2,300 mg/day; this aligns with recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which set the Chronic Disease Risk Reduction Intake for sodium at 2,300 mg/day for those 14 years and older.

FDA’s  Oct. 13 announcement came in a joint statement by Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock and Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) Director Susan T. Mayne. Their statement, in part, said:

“A cornerstone of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s public health mission is to reduce the burden of chronic disease through improved nutrition. As a nation, we are facing a growing epidemic of preventable, diet-related conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity, and the agency’s work in this area has become even more urgent.

“For these reasons, we’re taking a critical step to further address preventable diet-related chronic diseases and advance health equity that we hope will become one of the most significant public health nutrition interventions in a generation.

“Limiting certain nutrients, such as sodium, in our diets plays a crucial role in preventing diseases like hypertension and cardiovascular disease that disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minority groups; these diseases often result in hundreds of thousands of lives lost and billions in annual health care costs.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified these health disparities and the need for improved nutrition, as people with cardiovascular disease and other underlying conditions are at increased risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19.

“For these reasons, we’re taking a critical step to further address preventable diet-related chronic diseases and advance health equity that we hope will become one of the most significant public health nutrition interventions in a generation.”

Download the Guidance

Food Categories and Voluntary Targets for Sodium Reduction (Appendix Table 1) (XLSX: 43KB)

Summary Explanation of the Food Categories and Voluntary Targets for Sodium Reduction (Appendix Table 1) (PDF: 686KB)

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *