Amid a nationwide epidemic of diet-related illnesses, the Food and Drug Administration released new guidelines on Wednesday aimed at reducing the amount of salt that Americans consume in restaurants, school cafeterias, and food trucks, as well as when they eat packaged and prepared foods at home, according to the agency.
The guidelines, which were released after years of delay, aim to decrease the average daily sodium consumption by 12 percent over the next two and a half years by urging food producers, restaurants, and food service businesses to limit their use of salt. They were issued after years of delay.
3,000 milligrammes of salt is little more than a teaspoon, which is less than half of the 3,400 milligrammes of salt that the average American consumes in a day, according to the National Institutes of Health. However, many health experts expressed concern that voluntary measures might not be enough to compel change in an industry that is often resistant to regulatory oversight. The new guidance received only modest praise, with many stating that it would help draw attention to the problem of excessive sodium intake.
High blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and renal failure, has been linked to America’s obsession with salty foods, which has reached dangerously high levels. According to the Food and Drug Administration, more than 4 in 10 American people have high blood pressure, with the figure rising to 6 in 10 among Black individuals.
According to experts, processed and packaged foods, as well as meals served in restaurants, account for the majority of the extra salt that Americans eat (approximately 70%).
During a news conference to announce the recommendations, Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting Food and Drug Administration commissioner, stated that the recommendations were just the beginning of a multiyear campaign to gradually lower the nation’s sodium intake so that it more closely aligns with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends that a healthy diet should contain no more than 2,300 milligrammes of sodium per day.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, reducing salt consumption by about 40% over a decade may save 500,000 lives. Despite repeated requests, Dr. Woodcock would not answer whether the FDA would consider putting obligatory restrictions on food manufacturers if it determined that the sector had fallen short of the objectives. A cooperative and gradual approach, she said, would provide consumers and businesses with more time to adjust to changing circumstances.
“We realize that it is not a change that will take place overnight. In order to achieve this, an iterative strategy that supports progressive decreases in salt levels throughout the food supply over time is required,” she said.
In all, 163 types of processed and packaged foods will be covered by the guidelines, with goals varying depending on whether the item is rye bread, salad dressing, or baby food. A significant number of the most popular meals offered by major restaurant chains, such as cheesy spaghetti, french fries, and tacos, are included in the list of suggestions.