On October 13, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued final guidance for the food industry that provides voluntary, short-term (2.5 years) sodium reduction targets for a broad range of processed, packaged, and prepared foods to help reduce the amount of sodium in the U.S. food supply.
It is widely known that humans require small amounts of sodium as part of the daily diet, however, consuming too much sodium can increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Most dietary sodium (over 70%) comes from eating packaged and prepared foods—not from table salt added to food when cooking or eating. The food supply contains too much sodium and Americans who want to consume less sodium can have a difficult time doing so. That is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with the food industry to make reasonable reductions in sodium across a wide variety of foods.
The sodium reduction targets in the guidance are designed to support decreasing average daily sodium intake by about 12%—from approximately 3,400 milligrams (mg) to 3,000 mg per day. Hopefully, this reduction results in tens of thousands of fewer cases of heart disease and stroke and billions saved in healthcare costs. The FDA believes these targets are feasible to achieve in two and a half years and covers both manufactured foods and foods prepared by commercial establishments, such as restaurants.
The FDA has modified the voluntary sodium targets, timeframe, certain food categories, and descriptions in the final guidance. The guidance extends the milestone date for the short-term goals from 2 years in the draft guidance to 2.5 years from the publication of the final guidance.
The FDA is not finalizing the long-term (10-year) sodium reduction targets. The agency plans to continue its dialogue with the industry, monitor and evaluate progress in achieving the short-term targets, and expects to issue revised subsequent targets in a few years to facilitate a gradual, iterative process to reduce sodium intake.
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