- The FDA could finally be responding to the Center for Science in the Public Interest and co-founder Michael Jacobson's nearly 40-year battle for the reduction of salt in the U.S. food supply, Bloomberg reported.
- The FDA currently "is developing draft voluntary targets for sodium reduction in various foods," FDA spokeswoman Megan McSeveney told Bloomberg.
- CSPI filed a lawsuit against the FDA in October in hopes to "set a deadline" for the agency to respond to a petition CSPI filed in 2005 regarding sodium reduction in the food supply and revoking salt's GRAS status, Jacobson told Bloomberg. The agency is supposed to act on petitions within 180 days. FDA now has until Feb. 12 to respond to the CSPI lawsuit.
CSPI's journey to affect change for salt consumption in the U.S. began in 1978, when CSPI filed its original petition to the FDA requesting a cap on salt in processed foods. When the FDA did not take action, CSPI then filed a lawsuit in 1983, which led to disclosure of foods' sodium content on product labels, but no cap.
In 2005, CSPI filed the petition once again. In 2014, it looked like the FDA was finally closing in on voluntary guidelines to encourage food companies to reduce their use of salt, with the agency's then-commissioner describing salt reduction as an issue "of huge interest and concern." However, no such guidelines were released, and CSPI ultimately filed another lawsuit this past October.
This could be the first time FDA regulates salt content in the food supply, even though for years the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and official U.S. dietary guidelines have recommended that Americans significantly reduce their salt intake.
Salt reduction regulations are problematic for processed foods manufacturers, as salt levels could be above what future regulations might require. Trying to reformulate products — which have flavors consumers already love and identify with — by reducing salt content is a challenge for R&D departments.
Manufacturers have already begun reducing the sodium content in their products. General Mills announced last month that it had met its sodium reduction goal of 20% compared to a 2008 baseline in seven out of 10 categories. Nestle announced a 10% sodium reduction goal for its frozen pizzas by the end of last year.