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New sodium targets could help put food choices back in your hands

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You deserve the right to choose how much salt you eat. But that decision is often made for you by the food industry – more than 75 percent of the sodium Americans eat comes from some processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods – not from the salt shaker.

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The FDA releases voluntary sodium targets for food companies and restaurants.

The FDA release voluntary sodium targets. Yes!

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a draft of the first-ever voluntary sodium targets that set limits on how much sodium should be in certain foods. This is an historic announcement encourages food companies and restaurants to lower sodium levels.

So what do the voluntary targets really mean for you? If fully embraced by the food industry, these targets give you more freedom to choose the healthier option. You truly do have a choice if you know which companies are voluntarily using more moderate levels of sodium.

A moderate level of sodium in the food supply can greatly reduce risk for heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. In fact, sodium reduction could save more than 1 million lives and billions of dollars in healthcare costs over the next 10 years.

Some food companies are already leading the way in innovative strategies, with efforts to reach more moderate levels of sodium. And, even more food companies — from snack manufacturers to fast-food restaurants — have made commitments. But the draft voluntary sodium targets take this a step further by providing a more level playing field for industry, because companies now have a common target as they lower sodium in the foods they sell.

You have the right to decide how much salt should be in what you eat – not food companies and restaurants. Salt has been hidden in the food we eat for too long.

Action from more companies will help make sure all of us eat better and live healthier. It is so important that they hear from you that you not only support these efforts for voluntary sodium targets, but that you expect food companies to support and - once finalized- adopt them.

The good news is, your voices are being heard.

With your help, we will continue to make sure companies hear loud and clear that you expect foods with reasonable, moderate sodium options.

  • AHA sodium supporters generated more than 1,000 thank you notes to Nestle for reducing the sodium in some of their foods, without affecting the taste. Since then the company announced support for the release of these targets and further sodium reduction commitments.
  • Your tweets reached more than 16,000 people when you thanked Dominos, Schwann’s, and Revolution Foods for changing their recipes to have less sodium for school lunches.
  • You supported NYC’s decision to include a sodium warning label on the menu for foods that have over 2,300 milligrams of sodium
  • You sent more than 1,400 letters thanking the CEO of General Mills when the company achieved their 20% sodium reduction goals in 7 of 10 food categories.
  • You wrote more than 2000 letters to the CEO of Kraft Heinz, asking the company to make sodium reduction a priority.
  • You thanked Mars Food with more than 1200 letters when they recently made a commitment not only in support of the release of these targets, but also announced a five-year initiative to reduce sodium in their products.

The American Heart Association strongly supports the voluntary sodium targets.

They can spark a healthy change in our food supply, but we need industry to support them. This change can help all Americans live longer, healthier lives. Join us in encouraging food manufacturers and restaurants to support these targets.