After years of debate about sodium content, the FDA is proposing voluntary guidelines to reduce salt in the American food supply. According to the CDC, more than 70% of sodium consumed is already in food before it reaches the table. These new guidelines would apply to packaged foods like bread, salad dressing, canned soup, and cheese. Restaurant meals are also included.
The average American consumes 3,400mg of sodium each day, about 1.5 teaspoons. That is 50% more than the recommended level of 2,300mg. Too much sodium raises blood pressure, and one in three Americans have high blood pressure. Dropping sodium levels below 3,000 is also dangerous and increases the risk of heart attacks.
The guidelines would be applied in two phases, cutting sodium over two years and over 10 years. The expected level is to drop to 3,000mg in the first phase, then 2,300mg after the second phase. The proposal is open to public comments for the next five months.
The Grocery Manufacturer’s Association said that additional research is needed to determine the optimum level of sodium for health, but they will work with the FDA toward the reduction targets. Companies Walmart, Darden, Unilever, PepsiCo, General Mills, and Nestle have already started reducing sodium. Decreasing intake by 400mg a day could prevent 32,000 heart attacks and 20,000 strokes. By offering food that is less salty, consumers will be eating healthier. There is always the option to add salt to suit the palate.
Tavernise, Sabrina. “F.D.A. Proposes Guidelines for Salt Added to Food.” Health. The New York Times, 1 Jun 2016. Web. 2 Jun 2016.