FDA and FSIS Request Information on Sodium Reduction

September 14, 2011

By Ricardo Carvajal

FDA and FSIS have published a notice seeking information on issues related to reduction of dietary sodium.  Last year, the CDC determined that the government’s recommendation to limit sodium to no more than 1,500 mg/day applied to nearly 70% of adults (those deemed to be at greater risk for hypertension), but even the higher recommended limit of 2,300 mg/day has proven difficult to meet.  Average intake among those over 2 years of age is nearly 3,500 mg/day.  According to CDC, 40 percent of daily sodium intake comes from grain-based products (regulated by FDA) and 30 percent comes from processed meat products (regulated by FSIS).  Given the government’s estimate that 75% of dietary sodium is added during food manufacture and restaurant preparation, the topic of sodium reduction is of obvious interest to industry.

The notice catalogues 25 years’ worth of government and industry efforts to help consumers reduce sodium intake.  Given little progress on the issue, the two agencies are now “considering potential ways to promote gradual, achievable and sustainable reduction of sodium intake over time,” and acknowledge the need for “research on a variety of issues, including the development of possible targets” for sodium reduction.  The notice acknowledges that a number of factors “may inform judgments about appropriate opportunities for sodium reduction,” including the role of sodium in food safety, its impact on food processing, and the fact that consumers prefer salty foods.  The notice seeks information on a number of sodium reduction issues, including current industry initiatives, potential effective strategies, incentives for innovation in reformulation, establishment of targets, potential unintended consequences, and economic impacts.

Those wishing to submit information should note that any information not marked confidential “will be included in the public version of the official record without prior notice.”