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FDA Plans to Revise Salt Level Recommendations

Update Date: Jun 18, 2014 10:22 AM EDT
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Too much salt can lead to the development of hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. When hypertension is not managed properly, it can cause other health complications, such as stroke. In order to reduce the level of salt consumption, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it plans on drafting guidelines that will ask the food industry to reduce the sodium levels in their products.

"We believe we can make a big impact working with the industry to bring sodium levels down, because the current level of consumption really is higher than it should be for health," the FDA's Commissioner, Margaret Hamburg said reported in USA Today.

The guidelines will hopefully get Americans to cut down on their overall salt intake. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines state that Americans should eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium. For older adults and hypertensive people, the recommendation is set at less than 1,500 mg per day. However, based on recent data, the average American intakes around 3,600 mg per day.

The officials stated that people often unknowingly consume huge amounts of salt from processed, packaged and restaurant foods. One of the main problems with salt consumption is that many food products do not taste salty since the salt is used to enhance shelf life or to cancel out other flavors. If people cannot taste the salt and do not look at the nutritional content, they end up eating way more salt than they should.

The FDA hopes that the voluntary guidelines will encourage companies to reduce sodium levels. Even though the guidelines will not be enforced, experts stated that since the FDA is a regulatory agency, companies could expect the guidelines to be more of a stern warning. However, in order to get more companies to use less salt, the agency needs to finish drafting up the recommendations.

"As the clock ticks, America's blood pressure, along with health costs due to chronic disease, continues to rise," stressed Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Senate committee that oversees the FDA.

The FDA has not announced a release date for these guidelines. However, the agency's 2013 goal was to have the guidelines finished this year.

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