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Sodium Reduction

Although the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services establishes recommended Dietary Guidelines for Americans related to sodium consumption; the federal Government does not regulate sodium content in manufactured foods. Similarly, there is not a state or local jurisdiction that imposes state-wide or jurisdictional limits on sodium levels in manufactured foods or prepared foods. However, some state and local jurisdictions have enacted legislation or policy to reduce sodium content in prepared or manufactured foods served in specific settings, such as schools or prisons. There are also initiatives that seek to gain voluntary reductions of sodium by manufacturers in food processing and restaurateurs in food preparation.

For more information, visit the CDC Salt website.

Policy

  • National Salt Reduction Initiative
    • The New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is coordinating a national effort to reduce sodium use. The National Salt Reduction Initiative calls for a voluntary goal to reduce salt levels in packaged and restaurant foods by 25% over the next 5 years.
    • On January 10, 2010, the New York Times ran an article discussing NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s campaign to reduce New Yorkers’ salt intake by asking the restaurant industry to voluntarily comply to reduce sodium levels. The article also acknowledges city officials believe it would be difficult to legislate sodium reduction.
  • National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
    The NCSL has various resources on sodium reduction, such as a legis-brief titled, “Reducing Sodium to Improve Health”.

Proposed Legislation

  • State-Level Action
    • Felix Ortiz of the New York State Assembly introduced a multi-sponsor bill on March 5, 2010 that prohibits the use of salt by restaurants in the preparation of food. The bill allows for courts to impose civil penalties of not more than $1,000 for each violation.
    • The Alabama State Board of Education enacted policy in July 2005 that establishes criteria for sodium levels in single serving snacks in school settings [PDF-53KB]. Both cafeterias and vending machines offering single serving snacks must limit sodium content to less than 360 mg.
    • In January 2009, Vermont enacted nutrition and fitness policy guidelines [PDF-195KB] for schools that established standards related to sodium. Sodium in foods served as part of the breakfast and lunch programs must have less than 230 mg per serving unless the item is low-fat, fat free, vegetables with sauce, and soups.

Disclaimer: Information available on this website that was not developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not necessarily represent any CDC policy, position, or endorsement of that information or of its sources. The information contained on this website is not legal advice; if you have questions about a specific law or its application you should consult your legal counsel.

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