- The U.S. government may release voluntary targets for salt reduction in processed foods as early as this summer, current and former administration officials told Politico. This confirms a Bloomberg report earlier this year that said the FDA was working on voluntary targets.
- The targets wouldn't be mandatory, but they would put pressure on manufacturers to reduce salt amid a push for Americans to eat better-for-you foods. While salt has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and other health issues, recent research suggests that salt may not be as unhealthy as public health advocates have said.
- The Center for Science in the Public Interest sued the FDA in October for failing to act on a decade-old petition for salt reduction in the food supply and later gave the agency a June 1 deadline to respond to that petition. That lawsuit may have been enough to encourage the White House to act, a former top FDA official told Politico.
Industry groups like The Salt Institute have voiced concerns that manufacturers may have to resort to other chemicals to preserve flavor and quality if they can no longer use salt.
Another option is using an ingredient that reduces rather than replaces sodium, such as Tate & Lyle's SODA-LO Salt Microspheres, which offer the same level of salty taste with a lower level of sodium.
Industry groups like the Grocery Manufacturers Association have pointed out that its members have already reduced sodium in the food supply without voluntary targets put in place. Industry leaders have also expressed concern about how these targets could impact food companies if scientific consensus on salt were to change again. Trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils, for example, were once recommended in place of saturated fats and are now being phased out, per FDA mandate.