By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

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The American Heart Association has told the Food and Drug Administration that it is supportive of voluntary sodium reduction targets for the food industry, while recommending modifications that would help more people reduce their sodium intake.

The letter sent Monday applauded the FDA’s efforts to lower sodium consumption; reiterated the need for industry to make sodium reduction a priority; and highlighted consumer support for public policies, such as the sodium reduction targets.

The letter also expressed support for the FDA’s targets.

“If adopted by the food industry, the proposed targets will gradually reduce the amount of sodium in the overall food supply, helping Americans lower their sodium intake,” the letter reads. “We also appreciate that the FDA’s proposal uses a two‐step process that lowers the sodium targets over a period of years, as recommended by the National Academy of Medicine in 2010.”

The AHA did suggest ways that that sodium targets could be improved, encouraging the FDA to consider more aggressive sodium targets that would help a greater percentage of the population meet the sodium limit recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The reduction targets, which were released in June and are currently in draft form, are intended to encourage, but not require, food manufacturers, restaurants and food service operators to gradually lower the sodium content of their foods.

There currently is no limit on how much salt a food producer can put in a product. For example, a single slice of pepperoni pizza could have more than 800 milligrams. Two slices of sandwich bread could total over 300 milligrams. The AHA recommends no more than 1,500 milligrams a day for ideal heart health.

Most Americans consume more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day, according to the FDA. The agency’s reduction efforts are intended to reduce Americans’ consumption during the next two years to no more than 3,000 milligrams a day and to 2,300 milligrams a day in 10 years.

The AHA’s letter focused on the targets for the two-year goal.

“Many foods already meet the initial targets, demonstrating that existing food technology can reduce sodium content to the short‐term levels,” the letter reads.

The Dallas-based non-profit plans to submit additional comments in December that focus on the FDA’s 10-year targets.

Momentum for reducing sodium has already been building among some companies, including Nestlé, which is the world’s largest food and beverage company, Mars Food, General Mills, Kraft-Heinz, Tysons, Subway, Panera, Unilever, Aramark and PepsiCo.