FDA Plans to Help Americans by Cutting Salt Intake
The FDA is going to make a rather large and public effort to gradually reduce the salt consumed each day by Americans. The FDA states that less sodium in everything from soup to nuts would prevent thousands of deaths from hypertension and heart disease. The initiative, to be launched this year, would eventually lead to the first legal limits on the amount of salt allowed in food products.
Since the 1970s, reducing sodium intake has been an important public health goal for the US, yet despite warnings and interventions, Americans still consume more sodium than is good for their health which places each person at higher risk for blood pressure and related disease.
One of the plans is to get all companies to start reducing sodium. Jane Henney, the previous FDA commissioner who said, "The best way to accomplish this is to provide companies the level playing field they need so they are able to work across the board to reduce salt in the food supply."
A recent study by researchers at Columbia and Stanford universities and the University of California at San Francisco found that cutting salt intake by 3 grams a day could prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks, strokes and cases of heart disease.
Food and Drug Administration officials have begun industry conversations about voluntary reduction and are encouraged by the response, the agency says. But no decision has been made to regulate salt. An FDA spokesman said that consensus is needed to reduce Americans' daily salt intake but that officials still don't know the best path to getting there.
"Today's average sodium intake is several times what the body requires and its long-term effects are very serious," an FDA statement said. "Over the coming weeks, the FDA will more thoroughly review the recommendations of the IOM report and build plans for how the FDA can continue to work with other federal agencies, public health and consumer groups, and the food industry to support the reduction of sodium levels in the food supply."
Though Americans will feel healthier and we will be able to control certain diseases and death, Lori Roman, president of the Salt Institute states it is not a good idea. "The science simply doesn't back up these recommendations. Should the federal government regulate consumption of very low levels of salt, they are effectively compelling the entire population take part in the largest clinical trial ever carried out, without their knowledge or consent.”
Roman defended salt intake by saying, "There will be negative unintended consequences, including the introduction of substitutes, which consumers may find much less desirable than salt, which has been consumed safely for thousands of years."
For now, the FDA is focused on a healthier America and wants to save lives but making mandatory salt cutbacks in many of the processed foods Americans eat.