Soon Your Processed Food Would Contain Salt Substitutes - medtigo



Soon Your Processed Food Would Contain Salt Substitutes

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On March 24th, The US FDA proposed modifying the standards of identity (SOIs) for foods containing salt to permit the use of safe and appropriate salt substitutes. The proposed rule would contribute to a healthier food supply by allowing industry innovation in the production of standardized foods to reduce sodium content, as is already possible for non-standardized foods. This has the potential to improve health outcomes by encouraging consumers to gradually reduce their sodium consumption.  

According to FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D., this strategy may help reduce Americans’ sodium intake and reduce their risk of hypertension, a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.  “Today’s action is a further advancement in our efforts to improve nutrition and reduce chronic disease by providing manufacturers with an additional tool to reduce sodium use in food production.

Creating a healthier food supply, a top priority of the FDA’s nutrition work has the potential to improve the health of Americans and reduce diet-related illnesses and deaths that are preventable. Reducing sodium in the food supply may also promote health equity; unfortunately, underserved communities are disproportionately affected by hypertension and other diet-related diseases.”  

“Use of Salt Substitutes to Reduce the Sodium Content in Standardized Foods” is part of the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health of the Biden-Harris Administration. The National Strategy outlines the steps the federal government will take to eliminate hunger and diet-related diseases by 2030 while simultaneously reducing disparities.

In conjunction with the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in over 50 years, hosted by President Biden on September 28, 2022, the National Strategy was released. The announcement made today bolsters the Administration’s White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities, a nationwide call to action for stakeholders from all sectors of society to make audacious commitments to advance the Strategy’s objectives. The Challenge builds on the Administration’s announcement of $8 billion in private and public sector commitments at the historic conference.  

The proposed rule also complements the voluntary sodium reduction goals established by the FDA for processed, packaged, and prepared foods. As part of the Administration’s whole-of-government approach, the FDA has several initiatives to accelerate efforts to empower consumers with information and create a healthier food supply, including developing an updated definition and a voluntary symbol for the “healthy” nutrient content claim, front-of-package labeling, and Dietary Guidance Statements on food labels, and establishing recommendations for nutrition labeling for online grocery shopping.  

The majority of sodium consumed comes from processed, packaged, and prepared foods, not from salt people add to their food when cooking or eating,” said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. This effort, in conjunction with the FDA’s voluntary sodium reduction targets, is part of the agency’s overall nutrition strategy to create a healthier food supply, provide consumers with information to choose healthier foods and improve the nation’s health and wellness.  

Typical SOIs list the required and optional ingredients for a given food. They may specify the quantity or ratio of ingredients or components. Some SOIs also stipulate a production method or formulation. There are over 250 SOIs, which include milk, milk chocolate, assorted breads, assorted cheeses, and ketchup. Typically, foods with SOIs are known as standardized foods.  

Currently, the majority of SOIs do not permit the use of salt substitutes. The proposed rule updates the SOIs using a “horizontal” approach. This means that the proposed rule would affect a number of SOIs and apply to a variety of foods and food categories. Specifically, it would amend the 80 SOIs that specify salt as a required or an optional ingredient. Because these 80 SOIs are referenced by other SOIs, 140 of the 250 currently established SOIs for a wide variety of foods would be affected.  

The proposed rule does not provide a list of permitted salt substitutes but defines them as safe, and suitable ingredients (or a combination of ingredients) used to replace some or all of the salt in a standardized food. The extent to which salt can be replaced depends on the ability of salt substitutes to replace salt’s functions in food without compromising food safety or other essential characteristics. In the United States, salt substitutes are used in non-standardized foods and are subject to the same labeling requirements as other ingredients.  


In October 2021, the FDA issued industry guidance that finalized voluntary short-term sodium reduction targets for more than 160 categories of packaged and restaurant-prepared foods. If finalized, today’s proposed rule may assist manufacturers in meeting these voluntary targets. 120 days after publication in the Federal Register, the FDA will begin accepting feedback on the proposed rule. 


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