The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) have established new dockets “to obtain comments, data and evidence relevant to the dietary intake of sodium as well as current and emerging approaches designed to promote sodium reduction.” FDA and FSIS have warned that current sodium consumption “is substantially higher than what has been recommended by scientific and public health agencies and organizations,” including the Institute of Medicine and the USDA in its 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. According to the September 15, 2011, Federal Register notice, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2010 that over 80 percent of adults (>=20 years) recommended to consume less than 2,300 mg/d [milligrams per diem] of sodium in fact consumed more than 2,300 mg/d.”

The new dockets invite stakeholders and other interested persons to provide information about (i) “current and emerging practices by the private sector in sodium reduction”; (ii) “current consumer understanding of the role of sodium in hypertension and other chronic illnesses”; (iii) “sodium consumption practices”; (iv) “motivation and barriers in reducing sodium in their food intakes”; and (v) “issues associated with the development of targets for sodium reduction in foods to promote reduction in excess sodium intake.” In addition, FDA and FSIS have solicited comments and research addressing industry-led sodium reduction initiatives, strategies for reducing sodium in packaged or prepared foods, and the potential food safety consequences of sodium reduction, among other topics.  

“Many food companies recognize that reduction of sodium in the American diet is an important public health issue,” state the agencies. “Some major food manufacturers have publicly committed to reducing the sodium content of their products over time. Certain companies have voluntarily identified specific product goals for sodium reduction. Many have demonstrated that substantial reductions in sodium can be achieved in certain food products and have established research programs to address key issues such as taste preference, technological advances, safety, and consumer acceptance in working through challenges and gaps in knowledge.”