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The FDA Wants Food Manufacturers to Lay Off the Salt

New voluntary guidelines urge a reduction in sodium content

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Fresh on the heels of unveiling its soon-to-be-revamped nutrition labels, the Food and Drug Administration is now urging food manufacturers to cut back on salt. In new draft guidelines released today, the agency recommends sodium limits for more than 100 different types of processed, packaged, and prepared foods.

According to the FDA, the average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day; it hopes to reduce that to 2,300 milligrams a day. It's setting two- and ten-year sodium content targets for foods, both to allow manufacturers time to reformulate their products and to allow people to gradually become accustomed to eating less salty foods.

Of course, such changes will take time: As ABC News explains, "The guidelines released Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration are voluntary, so food companies won't be required to comply, and it could be a year or more before they are final."

The new nutrition labels unveiled last month will begin appearing on food packages in 2018. In addition to displaying calorie counts in a larger font, they'll also display information on added sugars, and serving sizes will be updated to more closely reflect how people actually eat — e.g., no more tiny bags of chips that claim to contain one-and-a-half servings.