Oct 13, 2021 - Health

FDA releases new guidance to cut down salt in U.S. food

Picture of a hand holding a salt shaker
Photo: BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration released new guidance on Wednesday asking makers of "processed, packaged, and prepared foods" to reduce the amount of sodium in their products.

Why it matters: High sodium consumption can lead to more severe cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Americans consume "far more sodium than recommended," the FDA says, and the guidance is an effort to get people to cut down on the amount of salt they consume.

  • The FDA says that over 70% of sodium intake comes from sodium added during food manufacturing and commercial food preparation.

By the numbers: In the U.S., more than 4 in 10 adults have high blood pressure, and the statistics are worse for people of color, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Approximately 6 in 10 Black adults have high blood pressure.

State of play: The FDA says the goal is to get people to voluntarily reduce their sodium consumption to 3,000 milligrams daily over the next two and a half years, compared to the 3,400 milligrams a day that Americans consume on average.

  • That is still more than the official recommendation of 2,300 milligrams a day, but the agency says that the "2.5-year goals are intended to balance the need for broad and gradual reductions in sodium and what is publicly known about technical and market constraints on sodium reduction and reformulation."

What they're saying: "We need to get to a place as a nation where we not only react to health scares but work hard to prevent them. That requires thinking about the food we eat — or, better put, the food we don’t. With FDA’s new recommendations, we get one step closer to improving health outcomes," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

  • "The human and economic costs of diet-related diseases are staggering. Hundreds of thousands of Americans die each year from chronic disease related to poor nutrition, and by some estimates, the total economic costs range upwards to a trillion dollars per year."
  • "Improving the quality of food and nutrition is not only important to boost individual health outcomes — it is an essential step towards tackling widespread health disparities."

Read the guidance:

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