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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

Research Project: Monitoring Sodium and Selected Nutrients in U.S. Foods

Location: Nutrient Data

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
With the increased emphasis on reducing sodium in U.S. diets, NDL and the Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HHS will pursue a collaboration to review and update the estimates for sodium and selected other nutrients in foods and to monitor possible changes in sodium levels, particularly in processed and prepared foods, over time. The NDL will update the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference with new values for sodium in the Key Foods for sodium which together contribute up to 80% of the sodium in the U.S. diet.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
NDL will.
1)identify Key Foods (e.g., sentinel foods), including restaurant and processed forms, which collectively contribute up to 80% of the sodium in the U.S. diet;.
2)develop estimates for sodium in the Key Foods, including selected processed and restaurant foods, through analysis, acquisition of industry data, or label estimates; .
3)develop a detailed plan for monitoring changes in sodium levels in specific food types in response to possible industry reformulations during 2010-2015; .
4)update, maintain, and disseminate databases for the selected nutrients in high priority foods consumed by the U.S. population; and .
5)determine the reliability of labeled values for sodium in selected foods which have standard Nutrition Facts panels. (This will not apply to many restaurant foods.)


3.Progress Report

Public health research has shown that the level of dietary sodium is a contributing factor in the development of hypertension and cardiovascular health. The Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL) is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, the Food and Drug Administration, and the ARS Food Surveys Research Group (FSRG) to develop a plan to monitor levels of sodium in processed and prepared foods. While the NDL has monitored levels of sodium and other mineral elements in foods since 1960, the new collaboration will require more frequent monitoring of specific products to track changes in manufactured foods. This collaboration is part of the coordinated efforts of local, state, and Federal government agencies, the food industry, and scientists in academia to encourage and achieve reduced sodium levels in foods. In April, 2010, the Institute of Medicine published a consensus report on Strategies for Reducing Sodium in Foods. In response to the recommendation that USDA monitor possible changes in sodium content of foods, ARS scientists have developed a plan for identifying processed and prepared foods which are the primary contributors of dietary sodium. FSRG scientists analyzed the most recent results of the WWEIA, NHANES Survey 2007-2008 using the sodium values for foods provided by the NDL and reported in National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR22) and the food intakes of participants in the Survey. Less than 150 “Sentinel Foods” were identified to be monitored over the next five to ten years. During 2010-2011, 40 of the Sentinel Foods were analyzed; data in SR24 released in late August, 2011 includes these values. In addition, NDL will continue to monitor the sodium content of almost 2800 foods which are needed by FSRG for assessing the nutrient content of reported foods. Through the National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program, NDL will generate data for sodium and other nutrients which may be affected by the reformulation of processed foods to reduce sodium. With the support of the CDC, FDA, and NIH, as well as USDA, the sodium monitoring project will include the determination of levels of other nutrients (e.g., total sugar, potassium, and total and saturated fat) which may change due to changs in food formulations resulting from decreasing sodium levels in foods. Data will also be submitted by the food industry to support this effort. Conference calls, email exchanges, and face-to-face meetings were and will continue to be conducted to support communication between collaborators.


Last Modified: 4/20/2014
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