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Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States
poultry products,21 and it has proposed but not yet finalized regulations requiring nutrition information for these products on labels or at point of purchase (USDA/FSIS, 2009b). In order to establish comparable nutrition labeling requirements for meat and poultry products, USDA in 1993 acting under its own authorities made mandatory the nutrition labeling of meat and poultry products, other than single-ingredient, raw products. Voluntary guidelines were set in place for nutrition labeling of single-ingredient, raw meat and poultry products. In 2001, USDA proposed to make these voluntary guidelines mandatory (USDA/FSIS, 2001). This proposal was not finalized, but in December of 2009 USDA announced it would solicit further public comments on the proposed rule (USDA/FSIS, 2009b).
Sodium and the Nutrition Facts Panel
The Nutrition Facts panel, an example of which is shown in Appendix I, provides nutrient information in amounts per serving and as a percentage of the DV for certain required nutrients. Sodium is one of the required nutrients, and its declarations are expressed both as a milligram amount and as a percentage of the recommended DV, which currently is established as 2,400 mg.22 FDA regulations provide a procedure for food producers to analyze the sodium content and determine quantitative sodium levels in their products. To be in compliance with labeling requirements, the actual nutrient content must not differ from the amounts declared in the panel by more than 20 percent.23 For sodium, the actual amount can not be more than 20 percent above the declared value.24
Establishing the Daily Value for Sodium
One of the goals of the NLEA was to allow consumers to quickly and easily view and understand the nutrition information on food labels. Consumers were to be able to understand the nutrients’relative significance “in the context of the total daily diet”25—to tell at a glance whether the nutrients in a product represented a large or small amount of a “desirable” intake or an intake associated with better health. The DV information not only allows consumers to make choices about the foods they consume, but also it allows them to make trade-offs. By observing that a particular product may contribute, for example, 75 percent of the amount of sodium considered
9 CFR 317.345.
58 FR 2079 and 2206.
21 CFR 101.9(g)(4)(ii).
21 CFR 101.9(g)(5).
Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990. Public Law 101-535, 104 Stat 2353.