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Two Groups Open To FDA Sodium Targets On Commercially Prepared Food

Last updated on June 13th, 2024 at 05:06 pm

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week released a draft for public comment on voluntary sodium reduction targets for the food industry. In response, two key groups in the food industry—the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the National Restaurant Association (NRA)—were cautiously open to learning more about the FDA drafts.

Average sodium intake in the U.S. is approximately 3,400 mg/day. The draft short-term (two-year) and long-term (10-year) voluntary targets for industry are intended to help the American public gradually reduce sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day. The targets also are intended to complement many existing efforts by food manufacturers, restaurants and foodservice operations to reduce sodium in foods.

The FDA is encouraging adoption by food manufacturers whose products make up a significant portion of national sales in one or more categories and restaurant chains that are national and regional in scope.

“The totality of the scientific evidence supports sodium reduction from current intake levels,” said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., 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 is confident that the short-term targets, which seek to decrease sodium intake to about 3,000 mg per day, are readily achievable. In fact, many foods, such as top-selling pretzel products, have already met the short-term target. The FDA has proposed a voluntary approach to sodium reduction and is sharing it as a draft for public comment.

Leon Bruner, chief science officer at GMA, said, “GMA and its member companies are committed to continue our efforts to provide consumers with healthful choices. We welcome a dialogue with FDA on its sodium reduction targets and look forward to working with the agency to ensure the best and most recent science is taken into account when determining sodium intake levels for optimal health for all Americans. 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.”

Bruner said 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 consumers.

Joan McGlockton, VP for food policy and Industry Affairs for the NRA, said restaurants have been actively engaged for some time in voluntary efforts to provide consumers with lower-sodium options.

“The NRA is committed to providing consumers with nutrition information. We joined forces with more than 70 public health and stakeholder groups to advocate for a national uniform nutrition-disclosure standard so that anyone dining out can have clear, easy-to-use nutrition information at the point of ordering. Through this new federal menu-labeling standard, restaurant guests will have access to sodium and other nutrition information to help inform their choices. We are reviewing this draft guidance to assess next steps for our members.”

 

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Shelby Team

The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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