The US Food and Drug Administration yesterday moved to cut average salt consumption by a third in an effort to reduce heart attacks and strokes.
Under its draft guidelines for major food manufactures and big chain restaurants, the agency aims to reduce salt content in hundreds of products, with separate sodium reduction targets set for two and 10 years.
As more than 70 per cent of the salt in the average diet comes in the form of processed and prepared food, the FDA seeks to lower sodium in those foods and give consumers the choice to add salt later to suit their taste.
Excess consumption of sodium is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
The goal was to cut average adult salt consumption from 3,400 milligrams a day to 2,300. The average American consumed around 50 per cent more sodium than the amount recommended by most experts, the FDA said.
Many US food companies, including Campbell Soup Co, General Mills Inc and Kraft Heinz Co had already cut salt levels to some extent in anticipation of the guidelines, which had been in the works since 2011.
"Experts at the Institute of Medicine have concluded that reducing sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day can significantly help Americans reduce their blood pressure and ultimately prevent hundreds of thousands of premature illnesses and deaths," Susan Mayne, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a statement.
CDC director Thomas Frieden and collegues said in an op-ed yesterday in The New England Journal of Medicine, that cutting the average sodium intake by just 400 mg per day could potentially prevent as many as 28,000 deaths annually.