The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been trying to encourage food manufacturers to voluntarily reduce the sodium in everyday foods Americans consume.
With little to show for it, and Americans consuming about three times what they should every day, the FDA plans a new initiative to get the salt out.
Salt is found in most processed foods to give them more flavor from soup to nuts, and there is no limit on how much salt manufacturers can use.
Salt is generally recognized as safe, but the agency believes that less sodium will translate to better health and prevent deaths from hypertension and heart disease.
Cutting sodium could save 150,000 deaths a year from cardiovascular disease, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
The new campaign will be the first time limits on salt in foods are addressed, reports the Washington Post, which adds the initiative has not yet been formally announced.
The FDA said it was considering such proposal as recently as two years ago.
Salt Consumption Excessive
It is a huge undertaking. Americans have grown accustomed to salt in foods, even foods not normally considered salty such as spaghetti sauces.
A year ago, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that while adults should consumer no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, during 2005-2006 the average intake for Americans was 3,436 mg per day.
The FDA will work with the food industry to reduce sodium over several years so that consumers will not see a noticeable difference. The final numbers for sodium are yet to be determined but thousands of foods will be affected. First, the actual sodium numbers will be assessed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans salt consumption has grown over the years and is now about twice the daily recommended limit.
A study by the Institute of Medicine, to be released Wednesday, shows that voluntary reductions by the $600 billion food and beverage industry have largely failed.
The federal initiative specifics have not been made public but the food lobby, Grocery Manufacturers Association and giant manufacturers such as Pepsico, Kraft, General Mills and Sara Lee have promised they will reduce sodium and are already doing so.
The lobby for salt, the Salt Institute, says the science on sodium is not yet clear and may not lead to health problems. #