For years, stubborn Americans have consistently thwarted government requests to curb high-sodium diets — we continually average a third more than the daily 2,300 milligrams it recommends, which isn’t much: only about a teaspoon of salt or a couple tablespoons of soy sauce. So the FDA has a new plan, and that’s to go around consumers entirely by issuing industrywide “guidelines” that stipulate how much sodium should be in what foods. The idea would favor gradual change over sudden reductions, so “consumers’ taste buds can adjust.”
Just as you’d expect, industry groups are afraid that the release of voluntary guidelines is the first step toward mandatory salt reduction laws, and also want to ensure a “rigorous assessment of all available scientific evidence” first. Manufacturers are split on the issue: Walmart says it will cut the sodium in its foods by 25 percent, and Subway, Campbell’s, and several dozen others have already pledged decreases as part of the New York Health Department–led National Salt Reduction Initiative, which argues these companies are already hitting sodium-reduction goals without their consumers ever really noticing.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg tells the the Associated Press she expects the voluntary guidelines to be released “relatively soon.”