Population-wide sodium reduction is a cost-effective approach to address the adverse health effects associated with excess sodium consumption. Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries consume excess dietary sodium. Packaged foods are a major contributor to sodium intake and a target for sodium reduction interventions. This study examined sodium levels in 12 categories of packaged foods sold in 14 LAC (n = 16,357). Mean sodium levels and percentiles were examined. Sodium levels were compared to regional sodium reduction targets. In this baseline analysis, 82% of foods met the regional target and 47% met the lower target. The greatest proportion of products meeting the regional target were uncooked pasta and noodles (98%), flavored cookies/crackers (97%), seasonings for sides/main dishes (96%), mayonnaise (94%), and cured/preserved meats (91%). A large proportion of foods met the lower target among uncooked pasta and noodles (88%), cooked pasta and noodles (88%), and meat/fish seasonings (88%). The highest the highest median sodium levels were among condiments (7778 mg/100 g), processed meats (870 mg/100 g), mayonnaise (755 mg/100 g), bread products (458 mg/100 g), cheese (643 mg/100 g), and snack foods (625 mg/100 g). These baseline data suggest that sodium reduction targets may need to be more stringent to enable effective lowering of sodium intake.
Keywords: food policy; food supply; global health; public health; sodium; sodium reduction; sodium targets.