NEW YORK (AP) — Food companies are coming under renewed pressure to use less salt after U.S. regulators spelled out long-awaited guidelines aimed at reducing sodium levels in dozens of foodsIncluding condiments, cereals and french fries.

These voluntary targets, which were set Wednesday for 163 food items, are designed to reduce salt intake. A majority of the sodium in U.S. diets comes from packaged or restaurant foods ― not the salt added to meals at home ― making it hard for people to make changes on their own.

This is to help people get used to eating less salt. Food and Drug Administration said reductions have to be gradual and across the entire food supply so people don’t keep reaching for higher sodium options.

“By putting out the targets, that really helps to level the playing field across the industry,” said Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s food safety and nutrition division.

Over the next 2.5 years, the FDA’s target sodium levels aim to cut average intake by 12% — from 3,400 to 3,000 milligrams a day. However, this would leave the average intake at 2,300 milligrams per day (the federally recommended limit) for individuals 14-plus. The agency promises to monitor the industry’s progress and continue to issue updated targets in order to keep levels close to the suggested limit.

Following issuing its guidance, FDA indicated that the agency had received feedback from industry. draft guidanceIn 2016. In 2016, Ketchup and mustard were divided up, so they now have separate targets. A second difference is that the final guidance doesn’t give a timeline for reaching long-term goals.

“It’s a huge disappointment that the 10-year goal didn’t come out at the same time,” said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

Mozaffarian claimed that there were some companies who refused to reduce sodium levels, but more science has supported federal guidelines on sodium. 2019 was the year that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine set the limit. reduced riskA chronic illness. Recent studyA salt substitute was also associated with lower risk of major cardiac events and strokes in China than regular salt.

Mozaffarian indicated that the FDA will have to monitor progress and communicate publicly about whether or not the targets succeed in driving the industry toward lower sodium levels.

In a statement, the National Restaurant Association said it provided feedback to the FDA’s draft guidance and that its member companies continue to provide options that address customer demand.

According to the American Frozen Food Institute, member companies offer lower sodium options in order to satisfy consumer demand.

Although the guidance can be voluntary, some companies may feel pressured to change to avoid more regulatory action. Dr. Peter Lurie is president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest which calls for mandatory sodium standards.

“If it turns out that the impact is not what we would hope, I think it’s back to the drawing board, and mandatory cuts are on the table,” he said.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. All content remains the responsibility of the Associated Press.


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