Canadian food industry advised to cut sodium

August 3, 2010 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Canadian food industry advised to cut sodium
The Sodium Working Group (SWG), a task force of medical experts and food industry leaders, has outlined a strategy to help Canadians slash their sodium intake by one-third.

It's estimated that Canadians consume twice the recommended intake of sodium, putting themselves at risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke and other health problems.  However, the real culprit isn't salt added during cooking or at the table.  More than three-quarters of the sodium Canadians consume comes from processed foods and restaurant meals.

The SWG's strategy aims to cut Canadian's sodium consumption from 3,400 milligrams to less than 2,300 milligrams per day by 2016. While Canadian adults need only 1500 milligrams of sodium each day, the safe daily upper limit is 2300 milligrams.

The SWG recommends that food manufacturers and restaurants voluntarily reduce sodium levels for which they will be held responsible through public targets and timelines, independent monitoring, annual public reporting on progress and, ultimately, the threat of mandatory measures.

The strategy also calls on Ottawa and the provinces to improve nutrition labelling on food products and in restaurants so that salt content is clearer to consumers, enabling them to compare products and make healthier choices.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation is a key member of the Sodium Working Group (SWG) and has said they "strongly support the report" and that "reducing sodium levels to those recommended by the SWG will reduce the number of strokes and heart attacks in Canada and save countless lives. A high consumption of sodium increases blood pressure, which is a major cause of, and a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease."

For more information on the sodium reduction strategy, click here.

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