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New Voluntary Sodium Reduction Targets for Processed Foods

February 8, 2021

Author: Sandy Maxwell, RD, Senior Nutrition Policy and Program Analyst at Nutrition Connections

Since February is Heart Month, our team at Nutrition Connections wanted to highlight Health Canada’s new Voluntary Sodium Reduction Targets for Processed Foods 2020-2025, which was released on December 18, 2020. These new targets build on the 2012-2016 targets, which aimed to reduce Canadians’ sodium intake levels to a maximum of 2300 mg/day. Through research and evaluation, Health Canada found that “Canadians, particularly children, teens and males, are still eating too much sodium” as they continue to exceed this recommendation.

Based on their findings, Health Canada decided it was important to set sodium reduction targets for manufacturers of processed foods that are realistic, in order to allow for meaningful reductions in sodium to occur in our food supply. The new voluntary targets aim to reduce Canadians 2017 sodium intake levels by 15-20% and apply to processed foods sold in retail outlets and items that are to be used for further processing, including various ingredients.

In order to develop these new targets, Health Canada took into consideration current Canadian and international contexts, feedback from stakeholders, and lessons learned from the 2012 voluntary sodium reduction targets and monitoring initiative. 

Overall, the revised targets and categories for processed foods are similar to those established in 2012. In some cases, new categories have been created and targets have been adjusted to:

  • Provide greater refinement within some categories
  • Account for technical challenges identified by manufacturers
  • Encourage further reduction in the saltiest products in each category

Health Canada will monitor the progress between now and 2025 and evaluate if additional courses of action should be considered.

If you are interested in learning more about these voluntary targets, Health Canada recently hosted a webinar and is making the video recording available until March 22, 2021. It can be accessed here, using the password sodium.

An additional resource that may be of interest is the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s position statement on dietary sodium, available here. It summarizes key health issues related to high dietary sodium intakes and provides recommendations and policy actions to help Canadians reduce the amount of sodium in their diets to 2,300 mg (or less) of sodium per day.

Reference:

Health Canada (2020, Dec. 18). Voluntary sodium reduction targets for processed foods 2020-2025. Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/sodium/sodium-reduced-targets-2020-2025.html

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