Sodium Reduction Meeting Held

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) have united food industry leaders, health professionals and government officials to address the progress and challenges of lowering sodium content in food products.

The one-day meeting, “Getting to 2,300: A Progress Report and Opportunities for Further Progress,” took place April 1 in Washington, D.C. Among the topics of discussion were the food industry’s efforts in sodium reduction, upcoming opportunities for continued progress, and the technical challenges of creating lower-sodium products without sacrificing consumer acceptance.

“Food and beverage manufacturers are committed to providing consumers with the product choices they need to achieve their optimal sodium intake levels,” said Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of GMA. “For years, food companies have been introducing new products into the marketplace containing lower sodium, or with no added salt, and although progress is being made, reducing sodium in products without affecting the taste or consumer acceptance of products is no easy task. Consumer acceptance of sodium-reduced food products is an important factor that must always be taken into consideration.”

“Neither public health officials nor many food industry executives are satisfied with the sodium status quo,” added Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of CSPI. “It is encouraging that some of the major manufacturers and restaurants are taking the problem seriously, sponsoring research and actually lowering sodium levels in their products.”

“Restaurants have made significant progress in developing lower sodium menu options for patrons,” noted Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the NRA. “The food and restaurant industries’ proactive and ongoing efforts will better enable the gradual reduction of sodium in the food supply, which will ultimately drive us towards the goal of reducing sodium consumption by consumers.”

The meeting was a follow-up discussion to a joint conference sponsored by GMA and CSPI in 2007 that focused on exploring ways to help consumers lower their sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams daily. That amount is also recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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