The reduction of sodium and salt in processed foods has increasingly been at the forefront of the public health advocacy agenda in the Unites States and other nations for years. Since 2002, GMA member companies have introduced more than 20,000 products with fewer calories and reduced fat, sugar and sodium, and through the Healthy Weight Commitment food and beverage companies have pledged to remove 1.5 trillion calories from the food supply by 2015.
In 2010, reports on sodium reduction were released by The Institute of Medicine and the Canadian Sodium Working Group, and in January 2011 the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Health and Human Services published the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Given the focus on reducing sodium, GMA is and has been engaged in domestic and global dialogue on reducing sodium concentration in the food supply. In 2010 the Board Committee on Health and Wellness initiated a project on sodium reduction in the food supply, and GMA formed the GMA Subcommittee on Sodium Reduction under the Nutrition Health and Labeling Committee, which is tasked with developing a roadmap for voluntary industry sodium reduction that includes developing a system to measure and monitor sodium reduction activities in a way that is transparent, replicable and accountable.
This fall, the subcommittee initiated the formulation of a list of criteria that an industry-supported database for measuring sodium reduction must exemplify. The subcommittee also began evaluating current research gaps related to sodium reduction and sodium science, for the creation of an initial list of recommended research topics for execution in the public sector.The subcommittee has also beenengaged in periodic discussions with FDA staff regarding sodium reduction strategies, and most recently met with agency representatives in person on September 22, 2011.
On September 15, 2011, FDA and FSIS released a notice stating that the agencies would open a docket to collect comments related to sodium reduction, which GMA plans to submit comments on.