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FDA wants less salt in American food every day

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is pushing Wednesday to cut salt levels by 12% in foods ranging from packaged meats to cheese, as it tries to suppress a growing epidemic of preventable health problems that has plagued the country.

In far-reaching guidelines, coming five years after the agency’s initial recommendation, the FDA calls for voluntary short-term sodium reduction targets from food manufacturers, restaurant chains and foodservice operators.

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High sodium intake has long been linked to high blood pressure, which is a leading cause of heart attacks and strokes. More than 4 in 10 American adults suffer from high blood pressure, according to the agency.

Salt is a ubiquitous ingredient in almost all foods. But the agency focused on 163 categories of processed, packaged, and prepared foods, including different types of cheese, pickles, nuts, sauces, cold cuts, crackers, and poultry – all things Americans love to eat. Even more so during the pandemic.

However, some health experts said the regulator should take a firmer stance.

“The FDA’s goals represent an important step forward, but reducing sodium intake to 3,000 mg per day is not enough,” the American Heart Association said in a statement.

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“We urge the FDA to follow through with action today with additional targets to further reduce the amount of sodium in the food supply and help people in the United States achieve adequate sodium intake.”

The new recommendation published Wednesday seeks to lower the average sodium intake to 3,000 mg per day, roughly a 12% reduction, from 3,400 milligrams over the next two and a half years.

Still, the average intake would be above the recommended limit of 2,300 mg per day from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for those 14 years of age and older.

The FDA said that even these modest reductions made slowly over the next several years will substantially reduce diet-related illnesses and said it plans to issue later revised targets to further reduce sodium content incrementally.

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According to the FDA, more than 70% of total sodium intake comes from salt added during food manufacturing and commercial food preparation. (https://bit.ly/3mMkVHn)

The agency said researchers estimate that the public health benefit of limiting salt intake results in tens of thousands of fewer cases of heart disease and stroke each year, as well as billions of dollars in healthcare savings. over time.

Laura Abshire, director of food policy and sustainability for the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement that she is reviewing the final FDA guidance and that “the restaurant industry continues to provide options to address health wants and needs. customers “.

(Reporting by Oishee Majumdar and Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; written by Ankur Banerjee; edited by Shinjini Ganguli, Bernard Orr)

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