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Rejected petitions requesting reclassification of salt’s status from “GRAS” (generally recognized as safe) to “food additive” and the addition of warning labels to highsodium foods and salt packets by deferring action on GRAS status of salt (HHS/FDA, 1982)

Deferred action pending assessment of the impact of

  • Sodium labeling regulations

  • Manufacturer efforts to voluntarily reduce salt

Indicated that a voluntary program would produce the desired results with less regulatory burden and affirmed that the food industry was in the best position to reduce sodium levels in processed foods and should be given a chance to do so



Sodium labeling (HHS/FDA, 1984)

Sodium added to mandatory list of nutrients to be declared on food labels

Defined the terms for sodium content claims



Nutrition Labeling Final Rules (HHS/FDA, 1993a,b,c, 1994, 2005)

Established a Daily Value (DV) of 2,400 mg for sodium labeling

Mandated declaration of sodium content on all foods (mg and % DV)

Established labeling rules:

  • Nutrient content claims for “free” (< 5 mg sodium per serving), “low” (≤ 140 mg sodium per serving), and “reduced or less than” (≥ 25% less sodium per serving than an appropriate reference food)

  • Foods labeled as “healthy” to contain ≤ 480 mg sodium per serving until Jan. 1, 1998, at which time sodium levels were to decrease to ≤ 360 mg per serving

  • Health claim: “Diets low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure” (foods ≤ 140 mg per serving)

  • Disqualifying or disclosure levels (≤ 480 mg per serving)



Final rule regarding sodium levels in foods labeled as “healthy” (HHS/FDA, 2005)

Retained 1993 level of ≤ 480 mg sodium per serving; eliminated requirement that this level drop to ≤ 360 mg


  • Technological barriers to reducing sodium in processed foods

  • Poor sales of products meeting lower-sodium levels

  • More restrictive sodium levels would inhibit the development of new “healthy” food products


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