April 20, 2010

FDA Salt Limits Could Be Forthcoming

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently working on a new plan that will reduce the amount of salt consumed each day, according to a Washington Post report published Tuesday.

According to the article, written by staff writer Lyndsey Layton, the FDA "is planning an unprecedented effort" to reduce salt consumption, "saying that less sodium in everything from soup to nuts would prevent thousands of deaths from hypertension and heart disease."

Layton reports that new regulations will be rolled out over the next decade, starting before the end of this calendar year, and will "eventually lead to the first legal limits on the amount of salt allowed in food products."

Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that the average daily intake of salt among U.S. consumers is 3,500mg, far higher than the 2,300mg recommended for the general population.

Several manufacturers have already taken steps to voluntarily cut salt.

In March, Kraft Foods, Inc. unveiled plans to cut sodium levels in all of their North American brands (including Oscar Meyer lunchmeats, Planters nuts, Ritz crackers, and Velveeta processed cheese products) by 10-percent over the next two years. Campbell's Soup Co. and ConAgra Foods, Inc. also announced similar initiatives this year.

"For 40 years we have known about the relationship between sodium and the development of hypertension and other life threatening diseases, but we have had virtually no success in cutting back the salt in our diets," Jane Henney of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio, told Reuters on Tuesday. "The best way to accomplish this is to provide companies the level playing field they need so they are able to work across the board to reduce salt in the food supply."

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which claims that cutting 1,200 milligrams of sodium daily could prevent up to 92,000 deaths and 66,000 strokes every year, originally petitioned the FDA to regulate sodium levels in the 1970s. Organization representative Michael Jacobson told Layton, "Limiting sodium might be the single most important thing the FDA can to do to promote health."


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