Americans eat about 1½ teaspoons of salt daily, more than double what they need for good health
By Associated Press health & medical staff
Public health experts urged the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday to force food makers to gradually cut the salt hidden inside their products, something the agency is considering.
Americans eat about 1½ teaspoons of salt daily, more than double what they need for good health — and high enough to increase risk of high blood pressure and other problems. Most of that sodium comes inside common processed foods — from soups to frozen pizza to sliced cheese.
Tuesday, the prestigious Institute of Medicine said the food industry hasn't done enough to voluntarily cut back. It urged FDA to set maximum sodium levels for different foods in a stepwise rollback, so people have time to adjust to the change.
The FDA hasn't decided whether to regulate sodium levels, but "no options are off the table," said spokeswoman Meghan Scott.
"There is no initiative at the moment," she said. But, "there is very little debate any longer over the impact sodium has."
The IOM is an independent agency chartered by Congress to advise the federal government, and is just the latest in a string of health groups to pressure the FDA in recent years to cut the salt.
The American Medical Association has said that if the salt in processed and restaurant food were cut in half over 10 years, that ultimately 150,000 lives a year could be saved.
See: FDA should regulate amount of salt hidden in food products, health experts say