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WASHINGTON (AP) - Food companies and restaurants could soon face government pressure to make their foods less salty. It's a long-awaited federal effort to try to prevent thousands of deaths each year from heart disease and stroke.

The Food and Drug Administration is preparing to issue voluntary guidelines asking the food industry to lower sodium levels. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg says sodium is "of huge interest and concern" and she hopes the guidelines will be issued relatively soon.

The food industry has already made some reductions, and has prepared for government action since a 2010 medical journal report said companies had not made enough progress on making foods less salty.

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