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Industry to FDA: Think again before setting category-by-category sodium reduction targets

By Elaine Watson+

03-Jun-2014
Last updated on 03-Jun-2014 at 16:20 GMT2014-06-03T16:20:21Z

Industry to FDA: Think again before setting sodium reduction targets

Two leading food industry associations have urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) not to set category-by-category limits for sodium amid rumors that the agency is planning to outline a new sodium reduction strategy this year.

In a comment  recently added to the docket where the FDA is collating responses to a 2011 request for advice on sodium reduction strategies, the American Bakers Association (ABA) said:

ABA is concerned that FDA CFSAN has plans to implement food category targets for sodium reduction using the approach modeled in the UK.”

ABA: New policy initiatives to decrease sodium intake would be premature

But this would be premature, argued ABA senior VP government relations and public affairs, Lee Sanders: “The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) most recent evaluation of the science linking sodium intake to cardiovascular disease outcomes did not define an intake range associated with optimal health or reduced risk of disease and suggested that no change in intake recommendations be made until there was additional research available.

“Until such a range is clearly defined by a credible independent scientific body, ABA suggests that new policy initiatives to decrease sodium intake would be premature.”

In a separate comment , the American Frozen Food Institute urged the agency to “allow industry's voluntary efforts to reduce sodium content to continue”.

It also cited a May 2013 report from the IOM , which it claimed “seriously call [s] into question the concept of reducing daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg”, along with a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Hypertension  which found that ‘normal’ sodium intakes in the range of 2,645-4,945 mg/day were associated with the most favorable health outcomes.

There were indications we’d see a document later this year

Asked what had prompted the ABA and others to submit fresh comments so long after the FDA's original call for input in 2011, Sanders told FoodNavigator-USA: “From recent discussions with FDA Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor and his nutrition labeling team, there were indications that we would see such a document [outlining the FDA’s sodium reduction strategy] later in the year.

“We had heard that this might come as early as June so we inquired. [However], it appears the timeline is longer than earlier anticipated.”

IOM: Jury out on 1500mg/day target

The FDA originally asked for comments from industry about potential approaches to sodium reduction back in 2011 (click HERE ) following a 2010 report from the IOM urging bold action to reduce the daily value for sodium from 2,300mg/day to 1,500mg/day.

In May 2013, however, the IOM published a follow-up report saying that while all Americans should consume less sodium, the jury was still out on whether they should cut back to 1,500mg a day, chiefly because there was just not enough data on the benefits of consuming between 1,500mg and 2,300mg/day to support a firm conclusion.

FDA: 'Considering voluntary sodium reduction targets for various foods in the marketplace'

An FDA spokesperson told FoodNavigator-USA that a date had not yet been set to publish its plans, but added that it was considering voluntary targets: "FDA is taking a multi-pronged approach to reducing sodium intake through labeling initiatives and consumer education and by considering voluntary sodium reduction targets for various foods in the marketplace.

"FDA continues to recognize the need to reduce the sodium content of the food supply to support reductions in the sodium intake of the U.S. population."

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