What do the FDA's Draft Voluntary Sodium Reduction Targets Mean for Food Companies?
Today, these guidelines are not yet in their finalized form, however, the FDA is expected to release the final version before the end of 2019.
In the United States, the government has a long history of guiding and regulating the food industry to protect and promote public health. When it comes to sodium reduction, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has played a role in many attempts to lower population sodium intake,1 but some studies have shown that the needle isn’t moving as quickly in the direction of significant reduction in US population intake.2,3
This, in part, may be the catalyst of the FDA’s decision to develop Voluntary Sodium Reduction Guidelines for food companies. In June, 2016, the draft targets were released to the public.4 Today, these guidelines are not yet in their finalized form, however, the FDA is expected to release the final version before the end of 2019.5
The draft of FDA’s Voluntary Sodium Reduction Guidelines outline sodium targets for 150 different food categories that are weighted by market share in order to focus on the dominant sellers in each category. These food categories, ranging from feta cheese to dry-cured meat-based sandwiches, were selected based on their contribution to population sodium intake.6 Because 77% of sodium intake comes from processed and prepared foods, these guidelines will apply to all food manufacturers, restaurants, and food service operators.1
These proposed sodium reduction goals are broken up into a two-phased approach -
- Short-Term targets: The primary, gradual approach provides targets for each food category that companies should achieve in the next 2 years. These draft targets should help consumers achieve 3,000 mg of sodium per day or less.1
- Long-Term targets: This steeper set of targets for each food category should be achieved by companies within the next 10 years. These proposed targets should help consumers achieve 2,300 mg of sodium per day or less.1
Many food industry stakeholders are now feeling mounting pressure of these guidelines as the potential release date approaches.In response to tensions surrounding these draft voluntary sodium targets, Scott Gottlieb, former FDA Commissioner said, “I think we’ve been very transparent about this all along. I don’t think people should be at all surprised about where the FDA landed on this.”5
Fortunately, sodium reduction in processed and prepared foods can be achieved with the right ingredients and expertise. At Cargill Salt, we offer a large portfolio of potassium chloride and other sodium reduction ingredients, as well as the knowledge and resources to help food manufacturers successfully formulate these ingredients into their products. With the right partnerships in place, the FDA’s Voluntary Sodium Reduction Guidelines—even in their proposed form—might not be so out of reach.