American Heart Association Calls on the Food Industry to Support FDA Sodium Targets

Consumers Want and Deserve Healthier Options

June 01, 2016 Categories: Advisories & Comments

Dallas, June 1, 2016 – American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments today on the Food and Drug Administration’s release of new draft voluntary targets to help us reduce the amount of sodium in the foods we eat:

The American Heart Association strongly supports the draft voluntary sodium targets released today by the FDA and we call upon the agency to finalize them as soon as possible. These new targets will spark a vital, healthy change in our food supply, a change consumers say they want. These voluntary targets can have a significant impact on the nation’s health.

The studies are clear and the outcomes are imperative for the lives of Americans. Lowering sodium levels in the food supply could eliminate about 1.5 million cases of uncontrolled hypertension and save billions of dollars in healthcare costs over the next decade.

The FDA’s draft guidance encourages the food industry to decrease sodium in their products to levels that will help the public achieve a daily goal of no more 3000 milligrams in two years, and 2300 milligrams in a decade. This gradual reduction will not only give industry the time it needs to update products, it will also give consumers time to adjust their taste buds and better digest the changes. We urge industry to follow the lead of Mars Foods, Nestle, PepsiCo and Unilever, who have shown support for the release of these targets. We hope that others in the food industry don’t take these new draft voluntary targets ‘with a grain of salt.’ While putting down the salt shaker is important for Americans, this measure alone is not enough for most of us to achieve more moderate levels of sodium in our diets.

For too long, Americans who’ve been trying to lower the amount of sodium in their diets have been faced with the daily challenge of finding healthier food options. More than 75 percent of the salt we consume comes from some processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods. That makes it nearly impossible for even the most highly motivated individuals to avoid an excessive amount of sodium in their diets. But if industry embraces the new voluntary targets, they will provide the public with better choices.

The companies listed above along with General Mills, and other members of the industry have already been working to reduce sodium in many of their products. For example, the National Salt Reduction Initiative has, in advance of this announcement, secured lower sodium commitments from nearly 30 other companies, including snack manufacturers, restaurants and fast food dining. If all food manufacturers and restaurants support the FDA voluntary targets, they will be giving Americans the healthy options they need and deserve.

Consumers want their voices heard about sodium levels in their food. In recent years, more and more consumers have reached out to food companies via letters and social media asking for more balanced, healthier food options. Parents are also urging schools to serve foods with more appropriate levels of sodium to their children.

These new targets are an important step in the right direction. They will make a significant impact on Americans’ efforts to reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and live longer, healthier lives. We look forward to a dialogue with the FDA, industry and other public health organizations on how we can work together to reach these goals.” 

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