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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 Laboratory

2012 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 (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Food Surveys Research Group (FSRG) to monitor levels of sodium in packaged and restaurant 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 retail foods, including some popular restaurant 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 the reduction of sodium levels in foods. In response to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendation that USDA monitor possible changes in sodium content of foods, ARS scientists have developed a plan for identifying packaged and restaurant foods which are the primary contributors of dietary sodium. FSRG scientists analyzed the most recent results of the What We Eat in America (WWEIA), National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 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. About 125 “Sentinel Foods” were identified to be monitored over the next five to ten years. During 2011-2012, the analyses of about 90 Sentinel Foods were completed; new data are scheduled to be released in SR25 in early September 2012. With the support of the CDC, FDA, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as USDA, the remaining foods will be analyzed in 2013. NDL will continue to monitor the sodium content of almost 2900 other foods-values which are needed by FSRG for assessing the nutrient content of foods reported in WWEIA. Through the National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program, NDL will generate data for sodium and other nutrients (e.g., total sugar, potassium, total and saturated fat) which may be affected by the reformulation of processed foods to reduce sodium. Data will also be submitted by the food industry to support this effort. NDL scientists will selectively monitor food label data and market share information to maintain updated nutrient values.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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