The Oklahoman

FDA revises sodium guidance

- Candice Choi

NEW YORK – 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 foods including condiments, cereals, french fries and potato chips.

The voluntary goals finalized Wednesday for 163 foods are intended to help lower the amount of salt people eat. 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.

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

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. That would still leave average intake above the federally recommende­d limit of 2,300 milligrams a day for people 14 and older. But the agency said it will monitor industry progress and keep issuing updated targets.

The FDA said it took into considerat­ion industry feedback after issuing its draft guidance in 2016. Ketchup, mustard and hot sauce, for example, were split up and now have different targets. The final guidance does not spell out a time frame for reaching longer-term targets.

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