American Bakers Association: Sodium reduction levels need sound science

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

The ABA says gradual, incremental sodium reduction is needed for baked goods
The ABA says gradual, incremental sodium reduction is needed for baked goods

Related tags: Hypertension

Determining sodium reduction levels must be backed with sound science and the latest IOM report highlights clear gaps in such literature, says the American Bakers Association (ABA).

Last week the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a 200-page report analyzing published research between 2003 and 2012 on sodium consumption and its impact on health.

It concluded a lack of sufficient evidence to determine lowering sodium intakes below 2,300mg can increase or decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke, or all-cause mortality. The IOM also found that low sodium intake could lead to risk of adverse health effects among people with mid- to late-stage heart failure receiving aggressive treatment.

Speaking to BakeryandSnacks.com, Lee Sanders, senior vice president, government relations and public affairs for the ABA, said: “Clearly, IOM recognized that there are gaps and that more research is needed regarding health implications of sodium levels that are too low.”

“ABA is supportive of the IOM panel’s conclusion that currently there is not scientific evidence to support a reduction below 2,300mg/day for the general population.”

Based on the IOM’s conclusions, Sanders said stringent sodium reduction targets like in the USDA’s school meal program and competitive food programs should be called into question and revisited “to make certain that the requirements are following grounded science based recommendations”.

However, the American Heart Association has said there is "overwhelming evidence"​ that lowering sodium improved cardiovascular outcomes.

Responsing to the IOM report, CEO of the American Heart Association Nancy Brown said: "The report is missing a critical component - a comprehensive review of well-established evidence which links too much sodium to high blood pressure and heart disease."

"The American Heart Association has meticulously reviewed scientific research and recommends that all Americans eat no more than 1,500 mg a day of sodium," ​she said.

Gradual, incremental reduction needed…

The bakery industry is working on the complicated process of sodium reduction, Sanders said, and “good progress”​ has been made.

“There are some products that present greater hurdles given their flavor profiles, but there are innovative new sodium replacement products entering the market that will assist with additional progress,”​ she said.

“ABA supports a gradual, incremental reduction of sodium in baked goods to ensure consumer flavor palette adjustment and acceptance of new products with lower sodium levels,”​ she added.

Sanders said that a "stealthy approach"​ is often more readily accepted by the average consumer, but there is room for highlighted and promoted reductions to target consumers specifically looking for reduced sodium products.

Dietary Guidelines 2015 shake-up

The US is set to renew its Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2015 and sodium levels will be addressed in this.

Currently, typical Americans consume more than 3,400mg sodium a day – way above the maximum levels recommended in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines (2,300mg/day for most and 1,500mg/day for large sub-sectors such as people aged 51+, all African Americans, plus anyone with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.

ABA president and CEO Robb MacKie said the association anticipates a thorough review of the IOM report by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The full IOM report can be found HERE​.

Related topics: Manufacturers

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