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J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2017 Oct;19(10):939-945. doi: 10.1111/jch.13044. Epub 2017 Jun 29.

The impact of voluntary targets on the sodium content of processed foods in Brazil, 2011-2013.

Author information

Ministry of Health, Brasilia, Brazil.
University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.
University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Brazilians consume excessive dietary sodium (4700 mg/d); hence, the reduction of dietary sodium intake has been a Brazilian government priority. A set of strategies has been implemented that includes food and nutrition education initiatives and the reduction in the sodium content of processed foods and foods consumed out of the households. Since 2011, the Ministry of Health has selected priority food categories that contribute to over 90% of sodium intake from processed foods and have set biannual voluntary targets for sodium reduction with food industries to encourage food reformulation. Three rounds of monitoring of the sodium content on food labels have been conducted for instant pasta, commercially produced breads, cakes and cake mixes, cookies and crackers, snacks, chips, mayonnaise, salt-based condiments, and margarine. Between 90% and 100% of the food products achieved the first targets in the 2011-2013 period, and the average sodium content of food categories was reduced from 5% to 21% in these first 2 years. These data show that with close monitoring and government oversight, voluntary targets to reduce the sodium content in processed foods can have a significant impact even in a short time frame. The Brazilian strategy will be continuously monitored to maximize its impact, and, if necessary in the future, a transition to regulatory approaches with stronger enforcement may be considered.


diet/nutrition; epidemiology; sodium

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