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FDA Issues Food Industry Guidance for Voluntarily Reducing Sodium in Processed and Packaged Foods

The targets in the final guidance seek to decrease average sodium intake from approximately 3,400 milligrams to 3,000 milligrams per day, about a 12% reduction over the next 2 1/2 years.

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October 14, 2021

FDA

SILVER SPRING, Md. — In a statement this week, the Food and Drug Administration announced new guidance on reducing sodium in 163 food categories of processed, packaged and prepared foods. Citing its public health mission to reduce the burden of chronic disease through improved nutrition, the agency said the US. is facing a growing epidemic of preventable, diet-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

"The agency’s work in this area has become even more urgent," said the release, which is attributed to Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of food and drugs, and Susan T. Mayne, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN).

This week, FDA issued the final guidance, "Voluntary Sodium Reduction Goals: Target Mean and Upper Bound Concentrations for Sodium in Commercially Processed, Packaged, and Prepared Foods,” which it said provides voluntary short-term sodium reduction targets. The guidance is another step the agency is taking to advance the Biden Administration’s whole-of-government approach to nutrition and health and improve future health outcomes.

The targets in the final guidance seek to decrease average sodium intake from approximately 3,400 milligrams to 3,000 milligrams per day, about a 12% reduction, over the next 2 1/2 years. Although the average intake would still be above the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams per day for those 14 and older, FDA said it knows that even these modest reductions made slowly over the next few years will substantially decrease diet-related diseases.

"The FDA is committed to playing its part with the tools available to us to help create a healthier food supply, promote healthy habits early and empower consumers to make healthier food choices," Woodcock and Mayne said. "We have already taken steps through our Closer to Zero action plan for reducing exposure to toxic elements in foods commonly eaten by babies and young children to the lowest possible levels and have more work ahead using a similar iterative process. Many of our federal, state and local partners also have initiatives underway that support sodium reduction and help people achieve healthier eating patterns overall. If we act together, we can have a profound impact on the health of millions of people."