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FDA lowers voluntary sodium guidelines, but not to recommended levels


The guidelines issued by the FDA relate to voluntary targets for foods produced by food manufacturers, restaurants and food service operators.

“The goals are to reduce the average sodium intake from about 3,400 milligrams (mg) to 3,000 mg per day, or a reduction of about 12%, over the next 2.5 years,” said the Acting FDA Commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock and the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Director of Nutrition, Susan Mayne, said in a statement.

“Although the average intake is still above the limit recommended by the dietary guidelines for Americans of 2,300 mg per day for those 14 years and older, we know that even these modest reductions, made slowly over the next few years, will greatly reduce the effects of diet. diseases, improve the health of the population as a whole and reduce the burden of health care costs in this country. “

The American Heart Association also recommends not to exceed 2300 mg per day, but recommends an “ideal limit” of 1500 mg per day.

In 2016, the FDA released a draft guideline suggesting a limit of 2,300 mg per day. The agency said it was working with the food industry. “Going forward, we plan to issue revised and subsequent goals to gradually reduce sodium content to further reduce sodium intake,” the FDA said.

“Because the average American eats so much excess sodium, even a reduction of 1,000 milligrams per day can dramatically improve blood pressure and heart health,” the Heart Association said on its sodium webpage. The Heart Association says consuming too much salt can raise blood pressure, which in turn causes heart disease, strokes, and kidney disease.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Heart Association said the FDA’s targets are an important step forward that will help people reduce their sodium intake, but not enough. He urged the FDA to take more action to lower sodium levels in the food supply.

“Reducing sodium levels in the food supply would reduce the risk of hypertension, heart disease, stroke, heart attack and death in addition to saving billions of dollars in health care costs over the next decade, ”he said. “Many in the food and restaurant industry have started reducing sodium in their products. We strongly encourage the industry as a whole to embrace these goals and build on existing efforts to reduce sodium in their products and meals.

According to the FDA, most people eat more sodium than recommended, and over 95% of children between the ages of two and 13 eat more sodium than recommended.

The new voluntary guidelines will be aimed at food manufacturers. According to the FDA, about 70% of the sodium people eat comes from prefabricated or packaged foods, “which makes it difficult to limit sodium,” Woodcock and Mayne said.

“Hundreds of thousands of Americans die each year from chronic diseases linked to unhealthy eating, and by some estimates the total economic costs are one trillion dollars per year,” said Xavier Becerra, secretary of the US department. of Health and Social Services. .

“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need to ensure everyone has access to safe and nutritious food. ” he said.

CNN’s Sandee LaMotte contributed to this story.