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U.S. FDA releases guidance on voluntary sodium reduction goals


October 13, 2021
By Bakers Journal

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Silver Spring, Md. – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released guidance intended to provide measurable voluntary 2.5-year goals for sodium content in commercially processed, packaged and prepared foods in a move to reduce excess population sodium intake, while recognizing and supporting the important roles sodium plays in food technology and food safety.

The goals target mean and upper bound concentrations for sodium in commercially processed, packaged, and prepared foods.

Among other guidance, the document, “Voluntary Sodium Reduction Goals, include sodium intake and recommendations:

Currently, the average sodium intake for Americans 2 years and older is approximately 3,400 milligrams per day (mg/day) (Refs. 3, 18). The recommendations of scientific groups that are charged with examining the totality of the evidence, including scientific bodies, qualified experts and governments around the world, support limiting sodium intake to about 2,300 mg/day (Refs. 3, 4, 21-24). Ninety-six countries have implemented a national strategy for sodium reduction (Ref. 25). A systematic review evaluating the effects of sodium reduction in high-income countries found no evidence of adverse effects from initiatives to reduce sodium intake (Ref. 26).

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This guidance supports the goal of reducing sodium intake as recommended by scientific consensus groups, by focusing on short-term reduction to 3,000 mg/day as a gradual approach to sodium reduction in the food supply. The guidance reflects the broad consensus among experts regarding the direct relationship between sodium and blood pressure, as well as the relationship between blood pressure and cardiovascular disease events (Ref. 4). With average sodium intake in the U.S. over 3,400 mg/day, there is considerable work to do to reduce intake to the recommended limit of 2,300 mg/day in order to reduce the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Thus, the overall goal of this guidance is to support reduction of average sodium intake to 3,000 mg/day as we continue the dialogue on sodium reduction.

“Although we recognize that a reduction to 3,000 mg/day still would be higher than the recommended sodium limit of 2,300 mg/day, the 2.5-year goals are intended to balance the need for broad and gradual reductions in sodium and what is publicly known about technical and market constraints on sodium reduction and reformulation,” the document says.

It continues: “FDA recognizes the important role of sodium in food for microbial safety, stability, and other functions. FDA’s approach to establishing these voluntary, short-term goals is grounded in research, review, and expert consultation . . . . The goals are intended to provide both FDA and the food industry with a common system for defining and measuring progress in reducing sodium. The goals are intended to complement existing efforts by food manufacturers, restaurants, and food service operations to achieve sodium reduction.”

The recommendations are entitled “Voluntary Sodium Reduction Goals: Target Mean and Upper Bound Concentrations for Sodium in Commercially Processed, Packaged, and Prepared Foods: Guidance for Industry.” Find more information and download the guidance document.