Canada Planning Regs to Lower Sodium in Processed Foods

Health Canada announced it will conduct an in-depth analysis of each category and will meet with industry stakeholders and scientific experts to better understand the challenges encountered in reducing sodium.

Setting voluntary sodium reduction targets five years ago for 94 processed food categories has not worked well -- the food industry met targets in only 14 percent of the categories, Health Canada reported Jan. 15. And because high sodium levels persist in most packaged foods, the agency plans to issue binding regulations.

The agency said its 2012 voluntary targets were established after extensive consultation with the food industry, and the agency encouraged the industry to achieve them by the end of 2016. Health Canada has now evaluated the industry's efforts to meet the.

Sodium reductions in most categories of processed foods were modest, which is an indication that additional measures are needed to reduce sodium in processed foods, Health Canada announced, adding that it will conduct an in-depth analysis of each category and will meet with industry stakeholders and scientific experts to better understand the challenges encountered in reducing sodium.

The agency said it will propose regulations that aim to make it easier and faster for Canadians to make healthy choices when buying food, while developing modern tools for Canadians to build their knowledge about healthy eating.

"There is too much salt in the food we eat, in particular in processed foods. Reducing sodium in foods is an important step towards improving the health of Canadians," said Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Canada's minister of Health.

According to Health Canada, 25 percent of Canadians have high blood pressure, and 80 percent of Canadians and 93 percent of Canadian children age 4 to 8 consume too much sodium. In Canada, 77 percent of Canadians' sodium intake is from processed food, with top contributors to sodium intake in Canada including breads, processed meats, soups, cheese, mixed dishes, and sauces.

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