Health Canada recently issued “Guidance for the Food Industry on Reducing Sodium in Processed Foods” as part of its effort “to help Canadians achieve the average sodium intake goal of 2300 mg per day by 2016.” According to Health Canada, which developed the voluntary guidance after receiving “significant input” from stakeholders, the benchmark sodium levels aim to help food manufacturers gradually reformulate their products to meet the nation’s sodium-reduction goals.
To that end, the agency calculated the Sales Weighted Average (SWA) sodium content in milligrams per 100 grams “using the sodium levels of the products within a category weighted by their Canadian volume market share in kilograms (kg).” The 2016 proposed SWA sodium levels were then established “by reducing the baseline SWA sodium content by approximately 25% to 30%.”
“The phased levels typically represent, respectively, 1/3 and 2/3 of the reduction required to meet the 2016 guiding benchmark SWA levels and are meant to help guide the industry towards meeting the 2016 SWA sodium levels. The majority of the 2016 Maximum levels correspond to the 75th percentile of the sodium levels observed in each food category,” states the guidance, which also encourages manufacturers to focus on foods targeted to children. “Regardless of the approach taken manufacturers are encouraged to meet the phase 3 benchmark levels by the end of 2016 and, if possible, go beyond them over time to the lowest level possible while taking into consideration factors such as microbial safety, quality and consumer acceptance.”