U.S. health officials are putting the pressure on the country’s food industry. They’re pushing for a cutback of one third of the salt being used in foods today, preparing guidelines that will have a wide-ranging impact on the processed food industry in the United States.
High sodium intake has been linked to higher blood pressure, which leads to heart disease and stroke. These are two major causes of death across North America.
Currently, the average American consumes about 3,400 mg of salt per day; the new guidelines are hoping to reduce that number to 2,300 mg/day. This mimics Canada’s voluntary sodium reduction strategy introduced six years ago, where they hoped to reduce the sodium consumption to the same 2,300mg mark.
To put that figure into perspective: one teaspoon of salt contains about 2,300 milligrams of sodium, according to the American Heart Association.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said these voluntary guidelines would apply to both major food manufacturers and restaurants.
“Our great hope is that this will initiate a very serious national dialogue,” said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf. He believes many people aren’t aware of just how much sodium they consume, until they’re in the hospital with a heart ailment.
Health groups still want to push forward, making the guidelines mandatory. But this is already a good first step: major companies like Campbell Soup Co , General Mills Inc and Kraft Heinz Co, have already started cutting salt in anticipation of the guidelines.
These guidelines come just days after the FDA announced their plan to overhaul the entire labeling system. The health agency will make the amount of added sugar and specific serving sizes more preeminent on food packaging.