A.M.A. calls for strict sodium limits in processed foods

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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. ― The American Medical Association has urged the Food and Drug Administration to take immediate action to reduce excess salt in food in an effort to reduce the burden of heart disease and stroke. The A.M.A. asked the F.D.A. to set strict limits on salt in processed foods and work to better educate the public on the benefits of a low-sodium diet.

"The need for immediate action is clear," said Stephen Havas, A.M.A. vice-president for
science, quality and public health. “The deaths attributed to excess salt consumption represent a huge toll ― the equivalent of a jumbo jet with more than 400 passengers crashing every da y of the year, year after year.

"Excess sodium greatly increases the chance of developing hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. Research shows most Americans consume two to three times the amount of sodium that is healthy, with an estimated 75% to 80% of the daily intake of sodium coming from processed and restaurant foods. Reducing the salt in our diets by 50% over the next 10 years could save at least 150,000 lives each year.

He said Americans don’t consume large amounts of salt because they request it, but often do so unknowingly because manufacturers and restaurants put it in food.

"The F.D.A. has an opportunity to inform the public of the hazards of salt through better labeling and provide increased incentives for the industry to reduce the amount of salt added to food," he said. "The U.S. should follow the lead of countries such as Finland and the U.K. who have taken action on salt, and seen promising results."

The A.M.A. recommended:

* The F.D.A. revoke the "generally recognized as safe" (G.R.A.S.) status of salt and develop regulatory measures to limit sodium in processed and restaurant foods.

* The F.D.A. and manufacturers work toward a minimum of a 50% reduction in the amount of sodium in processed foods, fast-food products and restaurant meals during the next decade.

* Interested stakeholders establish partnerships to educate consumers about the benefits of long-term, moderate reductions in sodium intake.

* The F.D.A. improve labeling to assist consumers in understanding the amount of sodium contained in processed food products and develop label markings and warnings for foods high in sodium.

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