The FDA, citing the epidemic of food-borne disease, released new guidelines on Wednesday to reduce the amount of sodium Americans consume in restaurants, school cafeterias, and food vans, or when they eat packaged and cooked. home products. …
The recommendations, released after years of delay, aim to reduce the average daily sodium intake by 12 percent over the next two and a half years by encouraging food manufacturers, restaurants and food service establishments to reduce their use of salt. That goal is 3,000 milligrams of salt – roughly a teaspoon – compared to the 3,400 milligrams Americans typically consume per day.
America’s love of salty foods has been linked to alarmingly high levels of high blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure. More than 4 in 10 American adults have high blood pressure; According to the FDA, among black adults, the rate is 6 out of 10.
Most of this excess sodium, about 70 percent, comes from processed and packaged foods and restaurant meals, the researchers said.
In a statement announcing the new guidelines, Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting FDA Commissioner, said they are the first step in a multi-year campaign to gradually reduce sodium intake in the country so that it more closely matches current dietary guidelines for Americans, which suggest a healthy diet should contain no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
According to the FDA, reducing sodium intake by about 40 percent in a decade could save 500,000 lives.
While nutritionists and public health experts have praised the FDA for tackling the problem, many said voluntary measures are unlikely to make a big difference. Some experts have proposed mandatory sodium limits, although they acknowledge that the enormous power of the food industry makes such measures unlikely at the federal level.
The American Heart Association said the recommendations are an important step in reducing sodium intake, but urged the FDA to lower the daily goal to 2,300 milligrams.
Michael Jacobson, a longtime proponent of healthier diets and author of The Salt Wars: The Battle for the American Diet’s Biggest Killer, said he is pleased that the FDA has finally taken action – five years after the agency issued draft guidelines. But he lamented that four decades have passed since an FDA advisory committee first warned of the dangers of excessive salt intake and recommended measures to reduce its importance in the American diet.
“It was very sad to see the government so indifferent to such a serious health problem,” he said.