As anyone on a diet to help control his or her hypertension or heart disease can tell you, monitoring sodium intake is not an easy feat. You put away the table salt, you stopped dashing salt in the pot- but going low sodium or sodium-free takes careful restrictions on your diet in this packaged-food world.
All it takes is a careful look at the ingredients on your canned or frozen goods to see that you are taking in a significant amount of sodium. Sodium based chemicals, including sodium chloride (common table salt) are in virtually every packaged food product on the market. Living a sodium free lifestyle has become easier over the last decade, but still is not as easy as you might hope.
Ever since the late 1980s, a move for change to protect the consumer from the dangers of consuming too much sodium has been underway at the regulatory level, and until recently, with foot dragging by the packaged foods industry.
The Food and Drug Administration released a report in 1991 entitled “High Blood Pressure: Controlling the Silent Killer”. This report’s findings got consumers involved, and subsequently Congress pushed the FDA into creating and enforcing a stricter set of guidelines for labeling food products.
By the mid-1990s some of these changes started to be implemented, and today manufacturers are required to clearly label their products beyond the claims of “low sodium” or “heart healthy.” These new requirements have forced food manufacturers into showing just how much sodium actually is in each package and in each serving.
The FDA has recently started considering taking sodium-bearing chemicals off its list of “safe” additives to packaged foods, which would have a major impact on the packaged food industry. Many preservatives in use today use sodium-bearing compounds.
With that set of studies and consideration underway, the packaged foods industry has begun pondering the impact of removing sodium chloride and other ingredients such as mono-sodium glutamate from its packaged foods. Packaged Facts, an industry research group published a study February 1, 2008 called “Market Trend: Low, Reduced and No Sodium or Salt Foods and Beverages in the U.S.”
According to Packaged Facts “Other countries, most notably the United Kingdom, have implemented serious regulations regarding sodium and salt contents of foods and beverages in efforts to pursue improvement in health and wellness. All fingers point to the United States.”
So, those of you on low- or no-sodium diets, take heart, healthy packaged foods are on the way.