Print Friendly and PDF
Recall of the Week: California Innovations lunch boxes due to freezer gel pack ingestion hazard
Consumer group blasts expansion of poultry inspection program

Consumer group asks FDA to require sodium reduction in food supply

By Rita R. Robison

Voluntary efforts by industry to reduce sodium levels in the food supply have failed, according to comments filed with the Food and Drug Administration last week by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy organization. 

Sodium_b150pxOn Friday, the center urged the FDA to create strong, but realistic, mandatory regulations to reduce sodium levels in restaurant and packaged foods.

The public sees the need to lower sodium, according to a recent survey commissioned by the center. Seventy-one percent of Americans indicated that the food industry had a responsibility to reduce the sodium content of their foods, and 58 percent support a government requirement to reduce the sodium in processed and restaurant foods.

“Overconsumption of sodium is one of the single greatest causes of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, and restaurant and packaged foods – not salt shakers –are far and away the largest contributors of sodium in the American diet,” Julie Greenstein, deputy director of health promotion policy for the center, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the food industry has failed to significantly bring down sodium levels despite 40 years of governmental admonitions. It’s time for the FDA to step in and require reasonable reductions.”

The U.S. government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that people with hypertension, those who are middle-aged or older, and African Americans should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. About 70 percent of adults fall into those categories, yet current average daily consumption is actually closer to 4,000 mg, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Recently, the American Public Health Association passed a resolution that calls on the FDA to begin regulating sodium in the food supply within one year and to establish a timetable for gradually reducing sodium in the food supply by 75 percent over 10 years.

The center’s filing said that reducing sodium consumption would save billions of dollars in medical costs, and more than of 150,000 lives annually.

Overwhelming evidence indicates that excess sodium levels pose significant health risks, but consumer education efforts are poorly funded and ineffective, according to the center, making efforts to reform dietary habits of Americans difficult. 

A recent survey indicates that 59 percent of Americans are “not concerned” about their sodium intake. As a result, an Institute of Medicine committee recommended mandatory regulations limiting sodium levels to improve public health and decrease healthcare costs. 

Many frozen dinners and canned foods contain high amounts of sodium:

  • Boston Market frozen Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy has 1,460 mg of sodium per serving, about one day’s worth.
  • Marie Callender’s frozen Creamy Chicken and Shrimp Parmesan has 1,200 mg of sodium, almost a day’s worth.
  • Applebee’s Provolone-Stuffed Meatballs with Fettuccine, has 3,700 mg of sodium, more than two days’ worth.
  • Denny’s Spicy Buffalo Chicken Melt has 3,760 mg of sodium, two-and-a-half days’ worth.

The centers first petitioned the FDA in 1978 to reduce salt in processed foods. Besides urging the FDA to set mandatory limits on sodium content in the food supply, the center asked the agency to lower the Daily Value for sodium from 2,400 mg to 1,500 mg.

Copyright 2012, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


There is really a need to undertake action to reduce sodium on foods. We all share this vulnerability to diseases that can potentially be caused by excessive intake of sodium.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)