Extended Comment Periods on Sodium Reduction Guidelines

Extended comment period is to allow greater discussion between the FDA and the public and obtain clarity on aspects of the guidance document.

It has been an active comment period for the FDA’s “Draft Guidance for Industry: Voluntary Sodium Reduction Goals: Target Mean and Upper Bound Concentrations for Sodium in Commercially Processed, Packaged, and Prepared Foods.” Published on June 2, 2016, this draft voluntary guidance was developed with the goal of helping the American public gradually reduce their daily sodium intake from the current average of 3,400 milligrams (mg) to 2,300 mg.

The FDA guidance includes two-year and ten-year voluntary sodium reduction targets for a number of food categories. According to the agency, these targets are also intended to complement many existing efforts by food manufacturers, restaurants, and food service operations to reduce sodium in foods.1

In response to feedback from several sources, the FDA agreed to extend the comment periods for the draft guidance from 90 days to 137 days (from August 31, 2016 to October 17, 2016) for the two-year voluntary sodium reduction targets, and from 150 days to 182 days (from October 31, 2016 to December 2, 2016) for the ten-year targets.3 This was to allow greater discussion between the FDA and the public and obtain clarity on various aspects of the guidance document, including the methods used for food categorization, estimation of baseline levels, and establishment of target levels.

The Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) stated that “most of the draft categories are composed of products with similar functional roles for sodium. GMA recommends that some be subdivided based on the different roles that sodium plays within the category”. 2

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) stated that “in some cases it was challenging to properly evaluate the short-term targets, which may reflect an unrealistic starting point or baseline and the inappropriate grouping of disparate cheeses into some of FDA’s 13 cheese categories.” They requested more detailed data from FDA about the types of cheeses included in each category so that they can be more informed prior to the December 2nd comment deadline.” 4

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