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NSSRI: Engaging Industry to Lower Sugar in the Food and Beverage Supply

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NSSRI: Engaging Industry to Lower Sugar in the Food and Beverage Supply

This guest blog was written by Andrea Sharkey, MPH.

As many of us take charge of our health, the need for clear nutritional information about the foods we eat becomes more and more important.  That’s why it’s vital that the food and beverage industries communicate openly on labels and lower the amount of added sugars in our food supply. Make no mistake, sugar is everywhere.

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It’s listed on labels as names we might not recognize like dextrose, barley malt, or rice syrup. It's also hidden in products we might not expect like barbeque sauce, yogurt, and granola. A food supply lower in added sugar, will make it easier for all of us to make healthy choices.

What is the NSSRI?

The National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative (NSSRI) is a partnership created by the NYC Health Department. It consists of over 100 local city and state health departments, associations, and health organizations, including the American Heart Association. Together, the partnership is calling on the food and beverage industry to voluntarily lower the sugar in their packaged products. The objective is to promote voluntary, gradual, achievable, meaningful, and measurable reductions in sugar content.

This approach has proven successful. The initial phase, called the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI), was launched in 2009 and set targets for reduced sodium levels in packaged and restaurant foods. Almost 30 food companies signed on between 2009 and 2015 resulting in a 7% reduction in sodium levels in the food supply. This effort showed us that meaningful reformulation of food products is achievable. 

How can you be a part of the solution? 

To learn more, please visit www.nyc.gov/health/nssri.

Written by Andrea Sharkey, MPH, Project Manager for the Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention & Tobacco Control at the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene. Read her bio here.