pears that the reductions have not had a far reach across the food supply. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy group, revealed that its tracking survey carried out since 1983 demonstrates only a 5 percent decrease in the sodium content of the foods tracked for the period 1983–2004 (CSPI, 2008).
In contrast to information about sodium content reduction, more information is available for the number of foods that have been marketed with a sodium content claim. As discussed in Chapter 2, the percentage of products with sodium content claims fluctuated between 5 and 13 percent from the early 1990s to 2007.17 Throughout much of the 1990s, the number of new products introduced with sodium content claims dropped (CSPI, 2005). This decrease in the number of products with such claims may have been due to industry concerns that consumers viewed foods with a reduced-sodium content claim in a negative light, but it may have also been a result of the industry turning its attention to other nutrients of concern, such as fat. There has been a slight rebound in the number of products with sodium content claims in recent years, which may be a result of increased attention to sodium intake and/or more recent food science innovations that have made further reductions possible.
With renewed attention to salt and sodium reduction around the world, food manufacturers have created sodium reduction initiatives in recent years. These initiatives have been driven primarily by pressure from international initiatives to reduce sodium, such as the work taking place in the United Kingdom, petitions to FDA to reconsider the regulatory status of salt, and, most recently, the National Salt Reduction Initiative coordinated by New York City. These initiatives are described further in Chapters 2, 7, and 8 and Appendixes B and G. Examples of industry efforts in recent years are provided in Box 6-2. This list is by no means comprehensive and reflects only publicly available information, but it does provide a sample of the types of efforts being undertaken with renewed interest in sodium.
To aid their ability to make advertised and silent reductions in the sodium content of their products, leading food manufacturers have invested in research to find new technologies. Research includes work in-house as well as funding for universities, research centers, and ingredient company projects (Nestle Ltd., 2007).18 As described in Chapter 3 and in this chapter, a variety of technologies have been developed to reduce levels of salt and other sodium-containing ingredients. Research to find replacements for sodium has not been as successful as research to find replacements for other nutritional components of health concern. For example, the sodium-reducing