It’s no secret that sodium consumption is a major health issue for Canadians. While the daily upper limit for sodium should be 2,300 mg, the average Canadian consumes 3,400 mg of sodium per day. High sodium intake is linked with elevated blood pressure, which is the major cause of cardiovascular disease and a risk factor for stroke and kidney disease. There is also evidence to suggest that a diet high in sodium is a risk factor for osteoporosis, stomach cancer and asthma.
With these risks in mind, the federal Minister of Health established the Sodium Working Group in late 2007 to develop a population health strategy for reducing sodium intake among Canadians. After two years of work, the federally-mandated Sodium Working Group released the Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada in July 2010. The strategy calls for a three pronged approach for reducing sodium intakes in which government, food industry and health organizations will work together to achieve:
- A structured, voluntary reduction of sodium levels in processed food products and foods sold in restaurant and foodservice establishments.
- Education and awareness for consumers, industry, health professionals and other key stakeholders.
- Support for ongoing research.
The process of reducing the sodium content of foods is complex since the role of sodium in foods varies. Sodium can be used as flavouring, a preservative and/or an antibacterial agent. It also has many effects on the texture and structure of foods. The Sodium Working Group has recommended a voluntary, structured approach to reduce sodium content in foods, involving:
- Published sodium reduction targets for foods in different categories
- Defined timelines
- A way for public commitment by industry to the targets
- A plan for monitoring progress by a body other than the food industry
- A plan for independent evaluation of the success of the program with the option of taking stronger measures as necessary depending on progress.
The Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada has an interim sodium intake goal of a population average of 2,300 mg of sodium per day to be achieved by 2016. The ultimate goal is to lower sodium intake for as many individuals as possible below the Tolerable Upper Intake Level of 2,300 mg per day.
Maple Leaf Foodservice is working hard to bring new reduced-sodium menu options to the marketplace! Watch for four exciting sodium-reduced products to be launched in January 2011: Turkey Pot Pie, Skinless Turkey Dinner Sausage, Premium Chicken Breast Strips and Healthy Selections Fully Cooked 90g Pork Chops!!! In the meantime, try our reduced sodium Ready Links Skinless Breakfast Sausages at only 310mg of sodium (two links) or any prepared meat from our Healthy Selections line up!