“These statistics show the confusion that Americans are facing when it comes to reducing sodium in their diet,” said Emily Krol, health and wellness analyst at Mintel. “The majority of sodium that people consume comes from packaged foods and restaurant fare, not what they’re preparing at home. Packaged food manufacturers and restaurants would be wise to increase the flavor of low-sodium foods using herbs or spices to combat the confusion and show customers that low sodium does not equal bad taste.”
However, it seems Americans are open to the idea of a low-sodium way of life. Just 21% of consumers think that low salt food items don’t taste as good and very few consumers (7%) agreed that low sodium products are too expensive.
Food industry leaders are taking note of this message. The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), recently brought together health professionals and government officials to discuss the progress and challenges of reducing the sodium content in food products to continue efforts to help consumers meet the 2010 Dietary Guidelines of 2,300 mg of sodium per day.
Topics of discussion included the progress being made by industry at achieving sodium reductions in food products, the opportunities ahead for continuing this progress and the technical challenges of achieving these reductions without sacrificing consumer acceptance. “Neither public health officials nor many food industry executives are satisfied with the sodium status quo,” said Michael Jacobson, CSPI executive director. “It is encouraging that some of the major manufacturers and restaurants are taking the problem seriously, sponsoring research and actually lowering sodium levels in their products.”