September 15, 2011
On September 13, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with several key initial partners, launched Million Hearts, an initiative that aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years. As one component of this initiative, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are launching efforts to identify opportunities to reduce sodium in food in order to put more control into consumers' hands. As a first step, FDA and FSIS have announced the establishment of dockets to obtain comments, data, and evidence relevant to the dietary intake of sodium as well as current and emerging approaches designed to promote sodium reduction.
Excess sodium intake is a contributor to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Most of the total sodium intake comes from processed and restaurant foods rather than what people add in cooking or at the table. As part of its ongoing efforts to help Americans control their sodium intake, FDA is seeking input on the opportunities for sodium reduction efforts, building on initiatives already undertaken by the food and restaurant industries.
In April 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued the report titled, Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States. The report concluded that sodium intake remains well above recommended levels despite several decades of education, labeling, and outreach efforts to reduce sodium consumption in the United States. Among other things, the IOM report noted that more research is needed to develop and implement new technologies for sodium reduction and discussed the role of voluntary action by industry.
FDA and FSIS recognize ongoing efforts by a number of members of the restaurant and packaged food industries to reduce sodium and appreciate the complexities of reducing sodium in foods. Continued input and support from industry and other stakeholders are important to support further progress on this significant public health issue. A Federal Register notice will be published in the near future announcing a public meeting to discuss the topics on which FDA and FSIS are requesting information.
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