FDA urging food manufacturers to reduce sodium content; consumers concerned over compromised taste

Better health in exchange for food that might not be quite so tasty. That’s the pitch from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which released new guidance Wednesday aimed at reducing sodium in processed and packaged food.

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Officials said the move is necessary because Americans are up against a growing epidemic of preventable, diet-related conditions like heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

They’re now asking food manufacturers, chain restaurants and food service operators to voluntarily reduce sodium levels in 163 categories of food, meaning things like ketchup, cereal, potato chips, bread and even baby food could all taste a little bit different.

The goal is to decrease the average American’s salt intake by about 12 percent over the next 2.5 years.

READ MORE: New sodium guidelines: FDA asks chefs, food producers to cut the salt

"We recognize that cutting down on sodium in your diet is hard to do on your own because about 70% of the sodium we eat comes from processed, packaged, and prepared foods, which makes it challenging," explained Susan Mayne of the FDA.

Most people who talked to FOX 5 outside of a Bethesda grocery store Wednesday said they support the idea.

"I think it’s probably not a bad idea because I think that salt is a bad problem that we have," James Nickelsporn said.

"If I still need the salt, I’m gonna use my salt shaker and put it on there," April Compton added, expressing some skepticism.


The FDA said similar approaches to sodium reduction have been successful in other countries, including Canada and the U.K.