Facilitators and Barriers to Implementing a Local Policy to Reduce Sodium Consumption in the County of Los Angeles Government, California, 2009
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Facilitators and Barriers to Implementing a Local Policy to Reduce Sodium Consumption in the County of Los Angeles Government, California, 2009

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    This qualitative study explores facilitators and barriers to a proposed food procurement policy that would require food purchasers, distributors, and vendors of food service in the County of Los Angeles government to meet specified nutrition standards, including limits on sodium content.


    We conducted 30 key informant interviews. Interviewees represented 18 organizations from the County of Los Angeles government departments that purchased, distributed, or sold food; public and private non-County entities that had previously implemented food procurement policies in their organizations; and large organizations that catered food to the County.


    Study participants reported 3 key facilitators: their organization's authority to impose nutrition standards, their organization's desire to provide nutritious food, and the opportunity to build on existing nutrition policies. Eight key barriers were identified: 1) unique features among food service settings, 2) costs and unavailability of low-sodium foods, 3) complexity of food service arrangements, 4) lack of consumer demand for low-sodium foods, 5) undesirable taste of low-sodium foods, 6) preference for prepackaged products, 7) lack of knowledge and experience in operationalizing sodium standards, and 8) existing multiyear contracts that are difficult to change. Despite perceived barriers, several participants indicated that their organizations have successfully implemented nutritional standards that include limits on sodium.


    Developing or changing policies for procuring food represents a potentially feasible strategy for reducing sodium consumption in food service venues controlled by the County of Los Angeles. The facilitators and barriers identified here can inform the formulation, adoption, implementation, and evaluation of sodium reduction policies in other jurisdictions.

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