WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration should delay issuing its final guidance on voluntary sodium reduction until after a review on the Daily Reference Intake for sodium is finished, according to a Dec. 2 letter sent by the American Bakers Association to the F.D.A.
The F.D.A. in June issued draft guidance to the food industry on voluntary sodium reduction in processed and commercially produced food and asked for comment. While the average sodium intake is about 3,400 mg per person per day in the United States, the guidance has a goal of reducing it to 2,300 mg per day in 10 years.
The A.B.A.’s Dec. 2 letter expressed concern about how the F.D.A. plans to track sodium reduction and about how feasible it is to achieve the 10-year goals. The A.B.A. said the Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reviewing the D.R.I. for sodium.
|Lee Sanders, senior vice-president of government relations and public affairs for the A.B.A.|
“We believe, therefore, that it is premature for F.D.A. to finalize guidance on sodium reduction until after the I.O.M. completes its review,” the letter, signed by Lee Sanders, senior vice-president, government relations and public affairs for the A.B.A., said. “Without the results of the I.O.M. review, it is unclear whether F.D.A.’s sodium reduction targets are evidence-based and justified by the best available science.
“We ask F.D.A. to wait to issue final guidance on sodium reduction until after the D.R.I. has been published and can be used to develop appropriate sodium reduction targets. Ensuring F.D.A.’s targets are based on D.R.I. is particularly important for F.D.A.’s long-term sodium reduction targets, which may vary widely with even small adjustments in the D.R.I.”
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommends people consume fewer than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, which is the tolerable upper intake level for people age 14 and over set by the I.O.M.
The A.B.A. letter, in expressing concern about how the F.D.A. plans to track sodium reduction, said the agency may not accurately capture intake for proposed food categories in the guidelines. The A.B.A. letter gave frozen/refrigerated dough and batter as an example.
“Despite the size of this category, only two unrepresentative food codes were mapped to it: cake batter and cookie dough,” the A.B.A. said. “Intake patterns of these foods would not be representative of the types and amounts of foods typically consumed in this category.”
The A.B.A. letter said the F.D.A.’s 10-year goals for sodium reduction may be too aggressive.
“Reductions in sodium may have significant and unpredictable effects for bakery products, and we caution against any reductions that could impact the shelf stability, functionality and physical properties, taste and flavor, consumer acceptance, and price of baked goods, which are particularly dependent on sodium to achieve the technical characteristics consumers expect of such products,” the letter said.
The A.B.A. gave examples of the different ways sodium benefits baked foods, such as by inhibiting the growth of acid-producing bacteria and by enhancing the golden color of bread by facilitating caramelization.
Limitations in consumer preference and expectation may create adverse and unintended consequences, the letter said. Sodium and sugar moderate a bitter flavor in whole grain bread, for example, and reductions in sodium may put the balance in flavor at risk, which may lead to reduced consumption of whole grain products.“A.B.A. respectfully requests the F.D.A. issue revised draft guidance so that F.D.A. can incorporate stakeholder feedback and the I.O.M.’s recommendation for the sodium D.R.I.,” the letter said.