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.
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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.
The table that accompanies the guidance provides the 163 categories of food and the 2010 baseline sodium concentrations. FDA then provided target mean sodium concentrations for each category. These targets apply to the categories in the entirety of the food supply and not necessarily to any one manufacturer’s particular product. Finally, FDA provides an upper bound sodium concentration for each category, which can be applied to individual products in those categories. Basically, FDA would like to see the sodium concentration in each product in those categories stay below this prescribed amount.
FDA realizes that a reduction in sodium may be more difficult to achieve for some companies and in some products than others. However, they are starting by encouraging participation by manufacturers with a significant proportion of national sales in one or more of the food categories and restaurants or similar retail establishments that are national or regional in scope.
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