The Food and Drug Administration may usher in mandatory salt limits if the voluntary measures suggested to the food industry do not prompt the desired results of health officials. If some lawmakers and FDA officials have their way, sodium could ultimately be restricted in all food products sold in the United States.
As of now, the FDA is merely requesting lower salt levels, but that could change according to officials at the federal agency. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg recently stated during an interview with the Associated Press that salt levels in food are of “huge interest and concern” for the government.
Hamburg is garnering support for her plan to lower sodium levels in food plan. Senator Tom Harking, the chair of the Congressional committee which oversees the FDA, said, “As the clock ticks, America’s blood pressure, along with health costs due to chronic disease, continue to rise.”
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg also had this to say about the enhanced role the federal government could play in what we eat:
“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. I think one of the things we are very mindful of is that we need to have a realistic timeline.”
The food industry has been bracing for government action since a Institute of Medicine report in 2010 determined that the progress made on making foods less salty was unacceptable. The IOM advised the federal government to create maximum sodium levels for various foods via the FDA. The report “favored a voluntary route” to accomplish this goal.
Americans reportedly consume a third more salt daily than the government recommends. The 1 ½ teaspoons of sodium ingested by the typical United States citizen each day could lead to strokes, increase the risk of high blood pressure, and other health issues.
In addition to making food more flavorful, food manufacturers add salt to products to prevent bacteria growth and to increase the shelf life of the product. A multitude of health activists and groups reportedly favor mandatory sodium levels but concede that voluntary guidelines are a good start.
Those opposed to the issue maintain that the FDA plan is merely an example of overreach by the federal government. Republicans have voiced opposition to similar Food and Drug Administration proposals in the past. GOP lawmakers fought against the Obama administration when a plan to mandate calorie labels on restaurant menus was proposed. The majority of Republicans in also did not support Michelle Obama’s school lunch plan. The First Lady’s healthy school lunches have been subjected to increased ire as students, parents, and school staffers maintain that the trays leave children hungry and many of the offerings wind up in the cafeteria trash can.
What do you think about the FDA enacting mandatory salt reductions in food?