- The FDA released the results of its 2014 Health and Diet Survey Friday, which informs the FDA's decisions about nutrition and labeling issues. Half of the adults surveyed said they check the Nutrition Facts label when buying food or beverages always or most of the time.
- It also found that three-quarters of participants believe that food and beverages in the grocery store have the same amount or more salt than they did five years ago.
- The FDA is also hosting three public meetings around the country to discuss the details of the FSMA rule on implementing foreign import safety programs, including details about foreign supplier verification programs and accreditation of third-party certification bodies.
Legacy CPG manufacturers have made efforts in the past five years to reduce sodium levels across portfolios, but according to this survey, consumers haven't noticed. In a way, it's positive that reformulating some salt out of these products hasn't noticeably changed their appeal.
This also suggests that either these changes haven't been widespread enough yet or that the manufacturers that do reduce sodium levels haven't done enough marketing or labeling changes. Manufacturers may consider making sodium a more important part of conversations, whether that be through label claims or a marketing campaign.
Ahead of the release of this report and the FDA's potential voluntary targets for sodium reduction, companies like Mars and Nestle have recently announced commitments to support FDA's voluntary targets and further reduce sodium in their own portfolios.
Though clean labels and mislabeling claims have become more popular topics for consumers — and concerns for manufacturers — the survey doesn't show a significant rise in consumers' label-checking. The last iteration of this FDA survey in 2008 showed that 77% of consumers often or sometimes check the Nutrition Facts panel when buying a product for the first time.
When the consumers who "sometimes" check the label are included, that number is also 77% for the 2014 survey. Clean labels and label claims may be receiving more attention, but consumers haven't changed purchasing habits all that much.
The FDA's import safety meetings, held in June, will take place in Costa Mesa, CA; Rutherford, NJ; and Detroit, MI, which offers the opportunity for manufacturers based in different parts of the country to travel to the meeting nearest to them.