Sodium Reduction Policy and Regulatory Developments

Historical data indicates as early as 300 B.C. laws prohibited the adulteration of salt.

Global Policy and Regulatory Sodium Reduction Developments

World Health Organization (WHO)

1. Creating environments which enable the reduction of sodium intake
In July 2010, WHO and the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency jointly convened a technical meeting in London focused on creating an enabling environment for population-based salt reduction strategies and generated a report summarizing the evidence and experiences presented.

2. Evaluating and monitoring population sodium consumption and sources of sodium in the diet
In October 2010, WHO and the Government of Canada held a joint technical meeting and generated a report focused on strategies to monitor and evaluate population sodium consumption and sources of sodium in the diet. This meeting is the second in a series of three meetings organized by WHO.

3. The role of fortified salt in iodine deficiency prevention
Date and location have not been determined.

Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)

Codex Alimentarius

  • Codex Alimentarius was created by FAO and WHO in 1963 to develop food standards and guidelines, as well as related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. The Codex Alimentarius Commission aims to protect consumer health, ensure fair trade practices, and promote coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations.
  • Discussion of the status of the Nutrient Reference Values (NRV) for Sodium took place at the 33rd Session of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses. (PDF)
  • Puts forth Codex Standard for Special Dietary Foods with Low-Sodium Content. Codex Stan 53-1981
  • Standards and guidelines, including specific standards for sodium, applying to labeling of all prepackaged foods for the consumer or catering purposes are included. Food Labeling, fifth edition. 2007

National Policy and Regulatory Sodium Reduction Developments


European Union

  • A framework was established for National Salt Initiatives identifying the following five key elements: 1) determine additional data needs; 2) benchmarks, major food categories; 3) develop actions to raise public awareness; 4) develop reformulation actions with industry/catering; and 5) monitor and evaluate actions and reformulations.


  • World Action on Salt & Health documents how Finland had started a national salt reduction initiative in 1978 and has been continually striving to reduce sodium consumption for more than three decades.


  • In 2010, France launched Groupe Salt to raise awareness of the dangers of high salt diets and to gather partners committed to reducing the amount of salt in packaged foods.



  • The Food Safety Authority of Ireland established objectives of their national salt reduction programme, which began working in 2003. The programme partners with manufacturers to secure commitments for gradual and sustained reductions in salt content of food and to raise awareness in the Irish population about the connection between high salt intake and health problems.

United Kingdom

  • A Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition published a report on Salt and Health. The United Kingdom Food Standards Agency and Department of Health subsequently focused on partnering with food industry to reduce the salt content of processed food products and to enhance an ongoing public awareness campaign. The Food Standards Agency developed a salt model to discuss strategies to reduce average salt consumption to 6 g a day. The government worked with the British Meat Processors Association to develop guidance on reducing salt in meat products. The government set forth targets and responses to comments and questions raised during stakeholder consultation meetings. In December 2011, the United Kingdom's Food and Drink Federation, the British Retail Consortium, and the Leatherhead Food Research announced a partnership that would collaboratively fund a new comprehensive report on reformulation and sodium reduction methods.

United States

White House


United States Department of Health and Human Services and/or Department of Agriculture

  • The Stealth Sodium Revolution describes partnerships surveillance efforts between USDA and HHS.
  • On September 15, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) jointed called for comments (PDF) on approaches to reducing sodium consumption. Deadline for comments was extended (PDF) to January 27, 2012. See Notice to learn more. The FDA/FSIS also hosted an archived public meeting on November 10, 2011.
  • 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans released January 31, 2011. Review the complete policy document or executive summary.

United States Department of Health and Human Services

Food and Drug Administration

  • The FDA details its sodium reduction efforts under its Food Ingredients and Packaging endeavors and also regulates GRAS Status, food labels, health claims, nutrient content claims, and organic sodium for foods under its authority and offers guidance on these regulatory aspects of developing and promoting products with sodium. 

GRAS Status

      • FDA explanation of GRAS under sections 201(s) and 409 of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
      • 21 CFR 182.1 Substances Generally Recognized as Safe (General Provisions)
      • 21 CFR 184.1721-1807 Listing of Specific Substances Affirmed as GRAS
      • HHS/FDA. 2008. Salt and Sodium; Petition to Revise the Regulatory Status of Salt and Establish Food Labeling Requirements Regarding Salt and Sodium; Public Hearing; Reopening of the Comment Period. Docket Nos. FDA-2005-P-0196 and FDA-2007-0545. Fed Reg 73(113):33027.
      • HHS/FDA. 2007. Salt and Sodium; Petition to Revise the Regulatory Status of Salt and Establish Food Labeling Requirements Regarding Salt and Sodium; Public Hearing; Request for Comments. Docket No. 2005P-0450. Fed Reg 72(204):59973-59979.
      • HHS/FDA. 1982. GRAS Safety Review of Sodium Chloride; Policy Notice; (PDF) Solicitation of Views. Docket No. 81N-0234. Fed Reg 47(118):26590-26595

Food Label

Health Claims

      • FDA 2008 Appendix C: Health claims: In Guidance for industry: A food labeling guide. College Park, MD: FDA, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
      • 21 CFR 101.74 . Health claims: sodium and hypertension

Nutrient Content Claims

      • FDA 2008 Appendix A: Definitions of nutrient claims: In Guidance for industry: A food labeling guide. College Park, MD: FDA, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
      • 21 CFR 101.61 . Nutrient content claims for the sodium content of foods.

Organic Sodium Regulations

Surgeon General

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Federal Food and Nutrition Assistance Programs

United States Government Accountability Office

United States Government Accountability Office. Report to Congressional Requesters: FDA should strengthen its oversight of food ingredients determined to be generally recognized as safe (GRAS). February 2010. GAO-10-246. Washington, DC: Government Accountability Office.

Non-Government Developments & Reports

Center for Science in the Public Interest