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Research Project: USDA National Nutrient Databank for Food Composition

Location: Nutrient Data Laboratory

Title: Sodium content of popular commercially processed and restaurant foods in the United States

Author
item Ahuja, Jaspreet
item Wasswa-kintu, Shirley - Consultant
item Daniel, Marlon - Consultant
item Thomas, Robin
item Haytowitz, David
item Showell, Bethany
item Nickle, Melissa
item Roseland, Janet
item Pehrsson, Pamela
item Cogswell, Mary - Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDCP) - United States
item Gunn, Janelle - Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDCP) - United States

Submitted to: Preventive Medicine Reports
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/14/2015
Publication Date: 11/14/2015
Citation: Ahuja, J.K., Wasswa-Kintu, S., Daniel, M., Thomas, R.G., Haytowitz, D.B., Showell, B.A., Nickle, M.S., Roseland, J.M., Pehrsson, P.R., Cogswell, M.E., Gunn, J. 2015. Sodium content of popular commercially processed and restaurant foods in the United States. Preventive Medicine Reports. 2:962-967.

Interpretive Summary: Most Americans consume more sodium than recommended, and most sodium in the diet comes from commercially processed and restaurant foods to which sodium/salt has been added prior to consumer purchase. The Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in close collaboration with U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring the sodium content of commercially processed and restaurant foods in the United States. As part of the program 125 popular, sodium-contributing foods were sampled nationwide and analyzed. Estimates for sodium content as mg/100g, mg/serving, and mg/kilocalorie were determined and compared against U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) sodium limits for ‘low’ and ‘healthy’ claims and to the optimal sodium level of < 1.1 mg/kcal, extrapolating from the Healthy Eating Index-2010. Results from this study represent the baselines nutrient values to assess future changes as foods are reformulated for sodium reduction. The baseline estimates show that the sodium levels are high and variable. Increased awareness of the high sodium content and variability in foods is important for consumers and health professionals because of its impact on sodium intakes.

Technical Abstract: Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in close collaboration with U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring the sodium content of commercially processed and restaurant foods in the United States. The main purpose of this manuscript is to provide baseline estimates of mean and variability of sodium and related nutrients (potassium, total dietary fiber, total and saturated fat, and total sugar) in 125 popular, sodium-contributing, commercially processed and restaurant foods in the United States. In 2010-2013, we obtained ~5,000 sample units from up to 12 locations and analyzed ~1,600 composites for sodium and related nutrient content. We determined estimates for sodium content as mg/100g, mg/serving, and mg/kilocalorie and compared them against U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) sodium limits for ‘low’ and ‘healthy’ claims and to the optimal sodium level of < 1.1 mg/kcal, extrapolating from the Healthy Eating Index-2010. Results from this study represent the baselines nutrient values to assess future changes as foods are reformulated for sodium reduction. Over half (69 of 125) of the foods, including most Sentinel Foods from fast-food/ restaurants (29 of 33 foods) exceeded the FDA sodium limit for using the claim “healthy”. Only 13 of 125 foods were below 1.1 mg/kcal. There is a wide range of sodium content among brands. Current sodium levels in commercially processed and restaurant foods in the United States are high and variable.