A new study states that packaged foods sold in grocery stores contain more salt than recommended by federal guidelines.
The study, which was conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published in the Preventing Chronic Disease journal, found that more than half of packaged grocery store foods contained too much added salt.
Linda Schieb, an epidemiologist in the division of heart disease and stroke prevention at CDC, and the lead author of the study, said, “We looked at packaged food sales in grocery stores. What we found was more than 50% of those products exceeded the FDA healthy food label guidelines for sodium.”
For their study, the researchers analyzed product sales from 2009 for U.S. grocery stores from 52 markets in three of nine U.S. census divisions, which represents about half the country’s population. The researchers didn’t include warehouse stores or Walmart.
Under the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) rules, only 480 milligrams (mg) of sodium per serving are allowed for individual foods, such as cheese, cold cuts and bread. Secondly, 600 mg is allowed for meals, such as pasta dishes, pizza and sandwiches.
However, the researchers found that more than 70% of pizza, pasta mixed dishes or meat mixed dishes, as well as 50 to 70% of cold cuts, soups and sandwiches surpassed FDA imposed sodium limits. 10% of breads, savory snacks and cheese went over the healthy label guidelines.
“Packaged foods remain high in sodium because of its role in preservation, so the fact that the studied products were higher than ‘healthy’ was no surprise. However, things might have improved since our team gathered the data in 2009. Food makers have been trying to decrease sodium,” added Schieb.
The researchers added that consumers can take steps to reduce salt intake. Reading the labels and comparing salt content between different foods is one way. Some comparison-shopping might save people from many milligrams of sodium per serving.