US Food Industry Progress During the National Salt Reduction Initiative: 2009-2014

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Abstract

Objectives

To assess the US packaged food industry's progress from 2009 to 2014, when the National Salt Reduction Initiative had voluntary, category-specific sodium targets with the goal of reducing sodium in packaged and restaurant foods by 25% over 5 years.

Methods

Using the National Salt Reduction Initiative Packaged Food Database, we assessed target achievement and change in sales-weighted mean sodium density in top-selling products in 61 food categories in 2009 (n = 6336), 2012 (n = 6898), and 2014 (n = 7396).

Results

In 2009, when the targets were established, no categories met National Salt Reduction Initiative 2012 or 2014 targets. By 2014, 26% of categories met 2012 targets and 3% met 2014 targets. From 2009 to 2014, the sales-weighted mean sodium density declined significantly in almost half of all food categories (43%; 26/61 categories). Overall, sales-weighted mean sodium density declined significantly (by 6.8%; P < .001).

Conclusions

National target setting with monitoring through a partnership of local, state, and national health organizations proved feasible, but industry progress was modest.

Public Health Implications

The US Food and Drug Administration's proposed voluntary targets will be an important step in achieving more substantial sodium reductions.

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