Sodium reduction remains voluntary for American food processors. This past September, the Food and Drug Administration and the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture asked for comments about reducing the sodium content of foods, but no regulations have yet been proposed.

The situation in Europe is different. For example, the UK’s Food Standards Agency published 85 voluntary salt reduction targets in 2006, with progressively lower limits set for 2012. By this year, bread’s target was recommended to drop to 1,000 mg salt (400 mg sodium) per 100-g serving of bread (roughly 2 slices), with cake to reach 500 mg salt (200 mg sodium) per 100-g serving (about 3½ oz). In February, the Dutch government introduced legislation to cap salt in bread at 1.5 to 1.8% of the finished product, effective Jan. 1, 2013.

For the most part, the UK plan for gradual reduction is being met, according to Steph Skellern, technical manager, Kudos Blends Ltd., Cleobury Mortimer, UK, but can sodium sink further? “Now, bakers are saying we’ve gone as far as we can without influencing taste or shelf life,” she said. “New lower targets were discussed for 2015, but nothing has been confirmed. They will probably stay the same as 2012 levels.

“We can do better and cut more sodium,” Ms. Skellern added, yet taste issues create market resistance. “The retailer wants to stay consumer-friendly, but the health professionals and their organizations continue to push for more sodium reduction in the UK and worldwide.”