The Food and Drug Administration, citing an outbreak of food-related illnesses, released new guidelines on Wednesday to reduce the amount of sodium Americans consume in or when they eat in restaurants, school cafeterias and food trucks. eat packaged and prepared foods at home.
The recommendations, issued after years of delay, aim to reduce the average daily sodium intake by 12% over the next two and a half years by encouraging food manufacturers, restaurants and catering companies to reduce their consumption. salt. That goal translates into 3,000 milligrams of salt – about a teaspoon – compared to the 3,400 milligrams Americans typically consume per day.
America’s love affair with salty foods has been linked to alarming rates of high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure. More than 4 in 10 American adults have high blood pressure; among black adults, that number is 6 in 10, the FDA said.
Much of that excess sodium, about 70 percent, comes from processed and packaged foods and meals served in restaurants, researchers say.
In a statement announcing the new guidelines, Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the FDA, said it was the first step in a multi-year campaign to gradually reduce the country’s sodium intake so that ‘It aligns more closely with current dietary guidelines for Americans, which suggest a healthy diet should contain no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
Reducing sodium intake by about 40% over a decade, the FDA said, could save 500,000 lives.
While nutritionists and public health experts have praised the FDA for taking the issue into its own hands, many have said the voluntary measures are unlikely to move the needle much. Some experts have suggested mandatory limits for sodium, although they recognize that the tremendous power of the food industry makes such action unlikely at the federal level.
In a statement, the American Heart Association said the recommendations were an important step in reducing sodium intake, but urged the FDA to lower its daily goal to 2,300 milligrams.
Michael Jacobson, longtime advocate for healthier eating and author of “Salt Wars: The Battle Over the Biggest Killer in the American Diet,” said he was happy the FDA finally acted – five years later that the agency has published its draft guidelines. But he lamented that four decades have passed since an FDA advisory panel first warned of the dangers of excessive salt intake and recommended action be taken to reduce its importance in the American diet.
“It’s just very sad to see the government so indifferent to such a serious health problem,” he said.