Food manufacturers are under increasing pressure to lower sodium in their products as more cities, states and national health organizations partner to work towards reduction of salt in packaged and restaurant foods.
In 2010, the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI), a voluntary, national initiative to reduce the levels of salt in foods by as much as 25 percent over the next five years, was conceived by health officials in New York. After two years, the initiative still has cities, states and organizations hopping on board, putting pressure on food manufacturers to lower the sodium content in their products. In January 2012, the Arizona Department of Health Services joined the initiative and is working to educate health practitioners, seniors, parents, children and all residents about the dangers of too much salt in the diet. According to the NSRI, if the national initiative is successful, it could prevent 10,000 deaths annually which are caused by high blood pressure and associated diseases.
Aside from the NSRI, the Center for Science in the Public Interest recently sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) criticizing them for not introducing mandatory sodium reduction levels. As diets continue to be too high in sodium, contributing to tens of thousands of premature deaths each year and billions in medical costs, the FDA has not taken any action to control the salt in packaged or restaurant foods. In the letter, it stated that upwards of 100,000 lives could be saved annually if sodium levels in packaged and restaurant foods were halved.
For food manufacturers, the pressure isn’t going to let up. In fact, it’s going to continue to get stronger. Reducing the salt levels in packaged and restaurant foods will increase consumer choice. Anyone can add more salt at the table, but consumers can’t remove what was added during production.