Public Health Institute Statement of Support for New Sodium Reduction Targets
Public Policy Advocacy
Statement from Lynn Silver, MD, MPH, Senior Advisor on Chronic Disease Prevention at the Public Health Institute
PHI applauds today’s announcement of draft guidance for the first federal targets for voluntary reductions of salt in processed and restaurant foods. The guidance offers two and ten year targets for sodium reduction in a wide range of food categories. Excess salt intake is a key contributing factor to high blood pressure and stroke, one of the leading causes of death in the United States. This is an important first step for our country.
Today’s announcement, by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, is the culmination of calls from the public health, medical and consumer protection since 1977 to reduce salt in processed and restaurant foods. These recommendations build on efforts of the New York City-led National Salt Reduction Initiative (of which PHI is a member), and of First Lady Michelle Obama’s work to obtain salt reduction commitments from food producers. We know this approach works: the United Kingdom’s voluntary targets, implemented a decade ago, has contributed to a reduction in high blood pressure and stroke there.
Nevertheless, this important guidance, once finalized, will require rigorous follow through and independent monitoring of progress in reducing salt in the food supply over the coming years. If food manufacturers fail to meet these voluntary targets, mandatory regulation will be needed in the future.
We congratulate the FDA and the administration for moving forward on this critical public health issue and call on the food industry to make the needed changes in their products. Lives are still lost unnecessarily every day due to excess sodium consumption–it’s time for that to change.
The draft guidance is open for comments. We encourage consumers, public health advocates and others to show their support for the recommendations.