GMA to FDA: Extend Timeline for Sodium Reduction Guidance

  • By: Staff Editor
  • Date: October 26, 2016
  • Source:
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GMA to FDA: Extend Timeline for Sodium Reduction Guidance

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), in comments submitted to the FDA regarding its sodium reduction guidelines, has urged FDA to extend its timeline for meeting short-term reduction goals from two to at least four years.

In June, the FDA issued draft sodium reduction guidance for the industry that are intended to help Americans gradually reduce sodium intake from the current average of 3,400 mg per day to 3,000 mg per day and eventually 2,300 mg per day. October 17 was the deadline for comments on the short-term targets.

“The two-year target is not a realistic interval as some reformulations can take longer than two years, especially when safety is a factor,” said the GMA in its comments.

FDA Draft Guidance: Voluntary Sodium Reduction Goals

This draft guidance is intended to provide short-term (2 year) and long-term (10 year) goals for sodium content in commercially processed, packaged, and prepared foods to reduce excess population sodium intake. The Guidance “aims to help Americans achieve the Dietary Guidelines-recommended sodium levels by encouraging food manufacturers, restaurants, and food service operations to reduce sodium in foods”.

However this guidance does not:

  • Recommend specific methods and technologies for sodium reduction
  • Prescribe how much of a sodium-containing ingredient, such as salt or sodium nitrite, should be used in a formulation
  • Focus on foods that contain only naturally occurring sodium (e.g., milk)
  • Address salt that individuals add to their food

Key Elements of the Guidance

The four key elements of the guidance are:

  1. Food Categories: FDA organized foods into about 150 categories on the basis of: contribution to sodium intake, the amount of sodium added to the food (rather than naturally occurring), similar functional roles for sodium-containing ingredients, similar technical potential for reduction in sodium content, and compatibility with existing industry and regulatory categories.
  2. Baseline Sodium Concentrations: FDA determined baseline levels of sodium in each food category using food label and restaurant nutrition data primarily from 2010. These serve as a starting point for measuring sodium levels in the food supply and for crediting companies on the sodium reduction progress already made.
  3. Target Mean Sodium Concentrations: The targets indicate the desired sales-weighted average sodium concentration in each category.
  4. Upper Bound Sodium Concentrations: The upper bound is a standard that could be applied to every individual product in any particular category.

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