Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel

of strategies to reduce sodium intake is not readily addressed. Activities intended to sell products that have been reformulated with reduced sodium are likely to play an outreach role that could be significant, given the dollars available for food advertising compared to those likely to be available for purely educational outreach (by government and others) with respect to sodium. The nature and extent of such activities cannot easily be predicted, particularly in light of comments from industry participants during the committee’s public information-gathering workshop (March 30, 2009) that past attempts to promote low-sodium food lines have been less than successful, leading some companies to refocus their efforts on “silent” (unadvertised) sodium reduction. When public attention is focused on the need for sodium reduction and industry decides to promote sodium-reduced products, the Federal Trade Commission, which is charged with protecting the public from false or misleading advertising and promotion, will need to engage to assure that explicit and implicit promotional claims are supported by science. Conversely, there is the question of bans on advertising for high-sodium products and/or mandatory disclosures. With respect to foods and beverages, Congress has been reluctant to constrain advertising, even to children (IOM, 2006), and First Amendment rights would be a consideration. However, an alternate approach might be the development of voluntary standards by the industry. The issue of advertising as it relates to high-sodium foods targeted to the general population is a topic not yet ready for exploration as a strategy.

Nutrition Labeling: Point-of-Purchase Sodium Information for Consumers

Label Reading and Interpretation

It is clear that efforts to improve the frequency of use and understanding of the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels are needed. As with all tools, some basic guidance is required to ensure that this tool is used and used properly. While there is a gap in consumer education in this regard, it is also true that the nutrition labeling provisions are now more than 15 years old. Newer information about how consumers use and interpret such information for all nutrients including sodium has been emerging since the implementation of the Nutrition Facts panel. As suggested by FDA itself (HHS/FDA, 2007), it is time for reevaluation and revision of some aspects of nutrition labeling. Further, CDC, FDA, and USDA, along with Congress, have signaled interest in exploring the utility and appropriateness of “front-of-package” nutrition labeling to assist consumers.12 At this time the main


Available online: (accessed October 27, 2009).

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement