FDA issues sodium reduction guidance

by Keith Nunes
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FDA guidance features 2-year and 10-year goals for sodium content.

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration issued for comment on June 1 draft guidance for the voluntary reduction of sodium in prepared foods. The guidance features 2-year and 10-year goals for sodium content in prepared foods to reduce excess sodium intake among consumers. The FDA has established proposed targets for approximately 150 food product categories that the agency said contribute meaningfully to the amount of sodium in the diet. (To view the list of product categories, click the link.)

The goal of the guidance is to reduce what the FDA estimates to be an average sodium intake of 3,400 mg per day among consumers to 2,300 mg per day. The guidance emphasizes the reduction would be done gradually over the 10-year period.

Here’s what this means for bacon and other prepared meat items:

 A few notes about the FDA’s guidance:

Baseline sodium concentrations were developed using label data for packaged foods sold directly to the consumer and menu nutrition data for foods sold in large restaurant chains. 
The “sales weighted mean” is a measurement of sodium content calculated by weighting individual products by volume sales given as the average sodium content in milligrams per 100 grams. A sales-weighted mean gives more weight to brands that sell more. Sodium reduction among the top-selling brands will count more towards the overall sodium-reduction goal.

The FDA’s focus on sodium reduction intensified in 2011 and since then many food and beverage companies have committed to reducing levels in many products. This past April, for example, Mars Food, a business unit of Mars, Inc., McLean, Virginia, announced its commitment to reducing sodium and added sugar in many of the company’s products. Mars Food said it aims to reduce sodium in its products by 20 percent in the next five years. This past May, Nestle S.A., Vevey, Switzerland, specifically voiced its support for the FDA’s sodium reduction efforts.

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