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Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States
rently available or as yet not researched. Implementers therefore will have to explore these approaches and related options as they become apparent, but should begin with information gathering and modeling of effects and outcomes.
The committee concluded that modification to the GRAS status of salt in food could be accomplished best if FDA (1) specifies as GRAS the uses and use levels of salt that allow persons to consume such foods as part of a normal diet with a reasonable likelihood of keeping their total daily intake of sodium consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; (2) implements disclosure or labeling statements as part of a stepwise process for GRAS modification, provided research demonstrates that the labeling is effective; (3) provides for exemptions as appropriate; and (4) considers petition options. Estimation of costs and specific funding recommendations were outside the committee’s charge, but these tasks and associated coordination and preliminary research will require considerable resources and a renewed national focus on sodium.
Other implementation factors address practices to reduce sodium content of processed foods and menu items and the factors important to a national campaign targeted to consumers. Both areas are seen as appropriate for targeted public-private partnerships.
Finally, this study revealed urgent and diverse research needs. These are grouped into four areas: (1) understanding salt taste reception and taste development throughout the lifespan; (2) developing innovative methods to reduce sodium in foods while maintaining palatability, physical properties, and safety; (3) enhancing current understanding of factors that impact consumer awareness and behavior relative to sodium reduction; and (4) monitoring sodium intake and salt taste preference.
The recommended strategies deliberately set a new course for efforts to reduce sodium intake. This will require not only careful implementation and resolution of many technical and non-technical issues, but also a renewed commitment to reducing sodium intake. These large but important tasks will be most readily accomplished if they are undertaken in the spirit of collaboration and cooperation. The ultimate goal is improvement of America’s health.