FDA issues sodium reduction guidance to industry for comment

by Keith Nunes
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The guidance features 2-year and 10-year goals for sodium content in prepared foods to reduce excess sodium intake among consumers.
 

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration issued for comment on June 1 draft guidance for the voluntary reduction of sodium in prepared foods. The guidance features 2-year and 10-year goals for sodium content in prepared foods to reduce excess sodium intake among consumers. The FDA has established proposed targets for approximately 150 food product categories that the agency said contribute meaningfully to the amount of sodium in the diet. (To view the list of product categories, click the link.)

Sylvia Burwell, secretary of Health and HUman Services

“Many Americans want to reduce sodium in their diets, but that’s hard to do when much of it is in everyday products we buy in stores and restaurants,” said Sylvia Burwell, secretary of Health and Human Services. “Today’s announcement is about putting power back in the hands of consumers, so that they can better control how much salt is in the food they eat and improve their health.”

The goal of the guidance is to reduce what the FDA estimates to be an average sodium intake of 3,400 mg per day among consumers to 2,300 mg per day. The guidance emphasizes the reduction would be done gradually over the 10-year period.

Susan Mayne, director of the FDA.’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

“The totality of the scientific evidence supports sodium reduction from current intake levels,” said Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Experts at the Institute of Medicine have concluded that reducing sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day can significantly help Americans reduce their blood pressure and ultimately prevent hundreds of thousands of premature illnesses and deaths. Because the majority of sodium in our diets comes from processed and prepared foods, consumers are challenged in lowering their sodium intake themselves.”

The FDA’s focus on sodium reduction intensified in 2011 and since then many food and beverage companies have committed to reducing levels in many products. This past April, for example, Mars Food, a business unit of Mars, Inc., McLean, Virginia, announced its commitment to reducing sodium and added sugar in many of the company’s products. Mars Food said it aims to reduce sodium in its products by 20 percent in the next five years. This past May, Nestle S.A., Vevey, Switzerland, specifically voiced its support for the FDA’s sodium reduction efforts.

Leon Bruner, chief science officer for the GMA 

“Success in cutting sodium consumption will require a holistic approach that includes actions by manufacturers, retailers and restaurants and that addresses consumer behaviors and preferences,” said Leon Bruner, chief science officer for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Washington. “GMA members are continuing to improve the nutritional profile of their products and have made more than 30,000 healthier product choices available to consumers between 2002 and 2013 by reducing sodium, calories, sugar and saturated fat, and increasing whole grains, fruits and vegetables. These include 6,500 product choices with reduced sodium, as GMA member companies have been reformulating products to provide lower sodium options to help consumers achieve healthy sodium intake levels.

“Like others inside and outside of government, we believe additional work is needed to determine the acceptable range of sodium intake for optimal health. This evaluation should include research that indicates health risks for people who consume too much sodium as well as health risks from consuming too little sodium.”

The comment period opens June 2 and will run through Aug. 31. Comments may be submitted via www.regulations.gov.

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