FDA Should Mandate Nationwide Salt Reduction, IOM Says

September 20, 2010

Stating that current levels of sodium in foods are 'too high to be '˜safe...,' the Institute of Medicine today released a report advising that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establish mandatory national standards for sodium content in foods. Currently, FDA does not regulate the level of sodium in foods. IOM says that very little of the sodium currently in foods is naturally occurring, but instead, is added.

Stating that current levels of sodium in foods are 'too high to be '˜safe...,' the Institute of Medicine today released a report advising that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establish mandatory national standards for sodium content in foods.

Currently, FDA does not regulate the level of sodium in foods. IOM says that very little of the sodium currently in foods is naturally occurring, but instead, is added.

IOM recommends an FDA-mandated nationwide reduction of salt levels. It stresses that reductions should be carried out gradually, 'so that the consumer...s taste preferences can be changed over time to the lower amounts of salt in food.'

All food manufacturers and restaurants should participate in this effort to 'create a level playing field for the food industry.' IOM added, 'All segments of the food industry would be carrying out the same reductions, and none would be at a disadvantage.'

In response to the IOM report, FDA today stated that it had not yet made a decision whether to regulate sodium content. However, the agency said that it would be reviewing IOM's recommendations. It also added that the Department of Health and Human Services would establish a working group to examine what steps should be taken.

Currently, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a daily salt intake level of no more than 2300 mg, or approximately one teaspoon per day. However, IOM says that average Americans consume almost 50% more than that'”more than 3400 mg of sodium per day.

IOM estimated that nationwide reductions in sodium intake could prevent more than 100,000 deaths annually.

IOM...s report on sodium was created at the request of Congress. In 2008, Congress asked the institute to recommend strategies for reducing sodium intake to levels recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.