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should now be incorporated as the basis for the DV for sodium (see Recommendation 3). Its use makes the derivation of a DV for sodium consistent with the approach used for all other essential nutrients. From the perspective of technical feasibility, there are no limitations or challenges to using the Adequate Intake as the basis for the DV as the declaration within the Nutrition Facts panel is a factual statement of sodium content.

The committee considered whether lowering the DV for sodium would act as a disincentive to industry to make sodium claims, and it concluded this would be unlikely as a general matter. A change in the DV for sodium would not change the basis for “free,” “reduced,” “less,” or “light” claims because they are based on either the absence of sodium or a comparison to sodium levels in a reference product. While the claims “low sodium” and “very low sodium” would be affected because the DV forms the quantitative basis for the claim, there are opportunities to review the basis for these claims to ensure they remain meaningful and serve their purpose.

There is also the possibility that lowering the DV for sodium will act as an incentive for most companies to reduce the sodium content of their foods. Reducing the DV would mean that labels would indicate that products contain a higher percentage of daily recommended intake than they had previously shown. Producers, wanting to appeal to concerned consumers, would have incentive to lower sodium in their products so that the Nutrition Facts panel would show the product to have a lower contribution to daily intake. Overall, such changes could have a dramatic impact on the food supply even if it would raise challenges for making “low” sodium claims on a certain number of products.

Restaurant/Foodservice Operations

Finally, the utility of point-of-purchase information for foods offered by restaurant/foodservice operations is worthy of consideration. Given that a large percentage of food consumed by the U.S. population is obtained from restaurant/foodservice operations, the absence of information similar to the Nutrition Facts panel is a concern. Eating out is no longer reserved for “special occasions,” and consumers undoubtedly need such information when making selections in a restaurant just as they do when making selections in the grocery store. As a step toward providing consumers with more nutrition information when eating out, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act13 contains provisions to address nutrition labeling of menu items. Restaurants with 20 or more outlets are required to post calories on menus, menu boards (including drive-thrus) and food display tags, with additional information (including sodium, fat, saturated fat,


Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, HR 3590, Title IV, Subtitle C, § 205; 111th Congress, 2nd session, March 2010.

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