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Calls for lower sodium food grow

Friday, January 27, 2012

Calls for Lower Sodium Food Grow
Consumers Union Urges FDA to Limit Sodium Levels in Food

WASHINGTON, DC – When it comes to sodium levels in food, consumers are asking the food industry for just a pinch. Nearly 7,000 consumers joined Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, in a recent petition supporting regulatory efforts to set national, industry-wide targets to reduce sodium in processed and restaurant foods.
In comments filed today with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the consumer group commended the agency’s joint initiative with the Food Safety and Inspection Service to reduce sodium consumption in the United States. Highlighting the myriad of health risks linked to high sodium, Consumers Union urged the FDA to work towards a goal of limiting intake to 2,300 mg per day, while also encouraging children and those at risk for hypertension to consume no more than 1500 mg.
“Many American consumers are seeking a sensible solution to the growing levels of sodium in processed and restaurant foods” said Ioana Rusu, regulatory counsel for Consumers Union. “Unfortunately, the answer is not simply to put down the salt shaker, since an overwhelming majority of sodium intake comes from processed, pre-packaged foods.”
Americans’ excessive consumption of sodium has been linked to increased health risks. The Institute of Medicine estimates that as many as 32 percent of adult Americans have hypertension, and roughly another third have pre-hypertension. Research has also shown that an excess intake of sodium plays a major role in the development of hypertension-related diseases, such as stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and kidney disease.
But it’s not as simple as picking healthier options over junk food. Sometimes lower-fat products can be higher in sodium than their full-fat counterparts to compensate for taste, making healthy grocery store choices even more difficult. Consumer Reports found that a serving of Ruffles Original Potato Chips had 10 grams of fat and 160 mg of sodium, while the baked version, with 7 fewer grams of fat, had 40 mg more sodium.
“Even consumers committed to a low-fat, healthier diet could inadvertently be consuming an excessive amount of salt. The health risks are too serious to continue the status quo of ever-increasing sodium. We look forward to working with the FDA to develop effective ways to reduce sodium levels and increase consumer choices,” said Rusu.
For a copy of the full comments filed with the FDA, please contact Kara Kelber at Consumers Union.

Media Contact: Kara Kelber, 202-462-6262