FDA Update: New Industry Guidance Document on Voluntary Sodium Reduction Released

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Oct. 13 released a guidance document for industry that aims to provide measurable voluntary short-term goals for reducing sodium content in commercially processed, packaged and prepared foods within two and a half years.

The guidance finalizes in part a 2016 draft guidance that provided short-term (two-year) and long-term (10-year) targets for sodium content in commercially processed, packaged and prepared foods. In response to about 200 comments on the draft guidance, the FDA modified the voluntary sodium targets, certain food categories and descriptions in the final guidance and extended the timeframe to achieve the short-term goals from two years to two and a half years.

The targets in the final guidance support an average decrease in daily sodium intake of about 12% -- from approximately 3,400 mg to 3,000 mg per day. The voluntary targets would apply to both manufactured foods and foods prepared by commercial establishments, such as restaurants. About 70% of U.S. sodium consumption comes from packaged, prepared and restaurant food. The average 12% reduction in daily intake is expected to result in tens of thousands fewer cases of cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as billions of dollars saved in health care costs.

“The FDA guidance is a great step forward in helping to reduce sodium consumption in the U.S.,” says Eugene Yang, MD, FACC, chair of ACC’s Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Section. “While public educational efforts have been useful, going directly to the food industry will likely have a much greater impact on lowering national blood pressure levels and reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.”

The agency will continue its dialogue with industry and will monitor and evaluate progress in achieving the short-term targets. Finalized long-term guidance is expected within a few years. Read the full FDA guidance.

Find resources for patients on heart-healthy eating at ACC’s CardioSmart, including an infographic and article on reducing sodium intake.

Clinical Topics: Cardiovascular Care Team, Prevention

Keywords: Stroke, Primary Prevention, Myocardial Infarction, Blood Pressure, United States Food and Drug Administration, Cardiovascular Diseases, Sodium

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