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The Food and Drug Administration is urging restaurants and food production industries to significantly cut salt use to help Americans reduce their sodium intake for health reasons.

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Acknowledging the “important roles” sodium has in both food safety and food “technology,” the FDA released non-binding recommendations For businesses that process, package and prepare foods commercially.

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The agency notes that more than 70% of our sodium intake comes from sodium added during food production and commercial preparation, i.e. packaged foods and restaurant foods, not from home cooking. That means Americans are hard-pressed to reduce sodium intake on their own.

“The average sodium intake in the US is about 3,400 mg. [per] day,” the FDA said. This is significantly higher than the 2,300 mg per day recommended for people age 14 and older under current dietary guidelines.

The FDA stated that sodium reduction should be gradual and throughout the food supply so that people do not reach for higher sodium alternatives.

“Meeting the goals really helps to level the playing field across the industry,” said Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Department of Food Safety and Nutrition.

The agency’s new guidelines are designed to achieve “measurable voluntary short-term goals” over the next 2.5 years. The FDA’s target sodium level aims to cut the average intake by 12% — from 3,400 to 3,000 milligrams a day. This would still leave the average intake well above the federally recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams per day for people age 14 and older.

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But the FDA said it would monitor progress in the food industries and continue to issue updated targets to bring levels closer to the recommended range over time.

“To avoid the potential for unintended consequences, we plan to monitor levels of other nutrients (eg, added sugars and saturated fat),” the FDA said in its guidelines. “Our goal is to encourage a gradual, efficient reduction of overall sodium content by using effective and sustainable strategies that maintain other measures of nutritional quality.”

“It’s a step in the right direction, it’s progress,” Dr. John White, WebMD’s chief medical officer, told Granthshala News. “And because we’re going to have less sodium in the food, it will make it easier for consumers to make healthier choices.”

Too much sodium in your diet can raise blood pressure, which is a major risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Many health experts say that limiting sodium intake may be an important factor in disease prevention.

Associated Press and Granthshala News.

A jar and a bowl of salt. (Granthshala 5 NY Photo)