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Sentinel Foods
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The Sentinel Foods are 125 popular, sodium contributing, commercially processed foods that contain sodium added during preparation, i.e. prior to purchase by consumers. Of these 125 foods, 92 are processed foods sold in stores and 33 are restaurant/fast food items. These foods were selected based on the dietary data from the national survey, What We Eat In America, National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey (WWEIA, NHANES), and accounted for approximately one-third of total sodium intake by adults in WWEIA, NHANES 2007-2008. To learn more about the selection of Sentinel Foods, click here. Sentinel Foods will serve as indicators for assessing changes over time in the sodium content of commercially processed and restaurant foods in the United States.


The Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL; part of USDA's Agricultural Research Service) monitors Sentinel Foods periodically by sampling Sentinel Foods at stores and restaurants around the country, followed by chemical analysis in laboratories to determine levels of sodium and related nutrients (potassium, total and saturated fat, total dietary fiber, and total sugar). Details on the methods that NDL uses to sample and analyze the foods are available in the March 2015 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Additional details on the baseline content of Sentinel Foods are available in volume 2, 2015 edition of Preventive Medicine Reports at



Sentinel Foods: Sampling and Analysis


Sentinel Foods: Monitoring and Trends