FDA considers issuing voluntary salt guidelines

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Eau Claire, WI (WEAU) -- Food companies and restaurants could soon face government pressure to lower the amount of salt in their products. This comes after a long awaited federal effort to prevent thousands of deaths from heart attacks and strokes.

The Food and Drug Administration is preparing to issue voluntary guidelines asking the food industry
to lower sodium levels in their product due to health concerns.

Registered dietitian, Diane Dressel with Mayo Clinic Health System, says there can be quite a few health risks associated with eating too much salt. Dressel says, "The danger of eating too much salt is it leads to higher blood pressure, and it affects the lining of the arteries. The higher blood pressure could then affect the kidneys and cause kidney damage, then the higher blood pressure could cause strokes or heart attacks."

Dressel says, for the average American, consuming more than the 2,200 milligrams recommended by the American Heart Association could be harmful.

Dressel says many products high in sodium can be found on grocery store shelves. She says, "Foods that are higher in sodium are typically your bought and prepared foods, like pizzas, your chips, your burgers, your fries all come quite sodium laden."

Dressel recommends skipping the pre-packaged food to avoid the high sodium content. She says, “Basic cooking, cooking from scratch. Instead of getting a box of potatoes, get a real baked potato, and then add different seasoning to it that don't contain sodium. Making your own pizzas and doing your own french fries, things like that.”

Dressel also says food at restaurants can be too salty but chef Mike Friedman worries about putting the responsibility on restaurants and food makers. Friedman says, "We need to be very careful about taking care of guests versus being nannies."

But, Dressel says she believes with the pressure from the American public, the regulations will be enforced.

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