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CU calls for industry-wide reductions for salt in processed and restaurant foods

Consumer Reports News: January 30, 2012 03:38 PM

Nearly 7,000 consumers joined Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, in a recent petition supporting regulatory efforts to set national, industry-wide targets to reduce sodium in processed and restaurant foods.

In comments filed with the Food and Drug Administration, Consumers Union highlighted the health risks linked to high sodium, and urged the FDA to work towards limiting intake to 2,300 mg per day, while also encouraging children and those at risk for hypertension to consume no more than 1500 mg per day.

Consumers Union also commended the FDA’s joint initiative with the Food Safety and Inspection Service to reduce sodium consumption in the United States. In a statement Ioana Rusu, regulatory counsel for Consumers Union stated:

Many American consumers are seeking a sensible solution to the growing levels of sodium in processed and restaurant foods. Unfortunately, the answer is not simply to put down the saltshaker, since an overwhelming majority of sodium intake comes from processed, pre-packaged foods.

Excessive consumption of sodium has been linked to increased health risks. The Institute of Medicine estimates that as many as 32 percent of adults in the U.S. have hypertension, and roughly another third have pre-hypertension.

Research has also shown that an excess intake of sodium plays a major role in the development of hypertension-related diseases, such as stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and kidney disease.

It’s not as simple as picking healthier options over junk food, however. In order to compensate for taste, sometimes lower-fat products can be higher in sodium than full-fat counterparts, making healthy choices even more difficult.

For example, Consumer Reports found that a serving of Ruffles Original Potato Chips had 10 grams of fat and 160 mg of sodium, while the baked version, with 7 fewer grams of fat, had 40 mg more sodium.

“Even consumers committed to a low-fat, healthier diet could inadvertently be consuming an excessive amount of salt," Rusu said. "The health risks are too serious to continue the status quo of ever-increasing sodium.”

Calls for Lower Sodium Food Grow, Consumers Union Urges FDA to Limit Sodium Levels in Food
[Consumers Union]

Maggie Shader


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