In June, the Food and Drug Administration issued draft guidance to encourage U.S. food companies to reach voluntary sodium reduction targets for their products. Noting that the average sodium intake per person is approximately 3,400 milligrams (mg) per day, FDA drafted two-year and 10-year targets for industry to help the American public gradually reduce sodium intake to 2,300 mg a day.
In joint comments filed Monday, IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation called for removal of the entire cheese category from the sodium reduction guidance.
“The dairy industry faces significant barriers to sodium reduction, and our efforts to find safe and effective means of reducing sodium in our products have been extensive and will continue,” the comments stated. “However, in good faith we cannot agree to the proposed targets when we cannot be assured of technology to achieve those targets within the given timeframes without compromising on product safety and quality.”
The comments outlined in detail the crucial role salt plays in the manufacture of process cheese and ripening of natural cheeses. Unlike in other foods, sodium is added in specific amounts for specific purposes in each specific cheese type, is not added in excess, and is not added in amounts beyond that needed for microbial safety, stability and physical integrity.
“NMPF and IDFA members feel that many of FDA’s two-year target means for cheese (category #1-13) are likely to be unachievable without sacrificing product quality, food safety and other critical product attributes,” the comments said.
IDFA and NMPF recommended that FDA go back to the drawing board on cheese standards, thoroughly revisiting its categories and reassessing the wisdom of applying a blanket percentage reduction to all cheeses, including those that are already relatively low in sodium.
In addition to cheese, IDFA and NMPF expressed serious concerns about the appropriateness, accuracy and impact of the proposed voluntary sodium reduction targets for butter and cream-based dips.
For more information, contact Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.