Sodium Reduction Initiatives
NMPF Submits Comments on Approaches to Reducing Sodium Consumption: January 27, 2012
In September 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) requested public comments, data and information relevant to the dietary intake of sodium and current approaches to promote sodium reduction. They are considering ways to promote gradual, achievable and sustainable reduction of sodium intake over time.
NMPF submitted comments which included:
- The benefits of multiple interventions (including weight loss, physical activity, and diet) in reducing hypertension, rather than reduction of sodium consumption alone.
- The multiple roles of sodium in cheese manufacture, the technological challenges in replacing sodium in cheese, and the labeling challenges with reducing sodium in cheese.
- The voluntary and proactive efforts of the dairy industry to reduce sodium in cheese. NMPF urged FDA to avoid federal restrictions on sodium content in foods.
Read NMPF's full comments online.
Dairy Organizations Comment on NYC National Sodium Reduction Initiative: February 1, 2010
The National Milk Producers Federation commented on the New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene national sodium reduction initiative. The voluntary initiative sought to reduce sodium content on a variety of consumer products including cheese and cheese for frozen pizza.
Salt plays a critical role in the cheese fermentation process by controlling activities of microorganisms and enzymes central to the cheese-making process. Salt levels affect cheese flavor, texture, and shelf life. Salt is a significant factor in minimizing spoilage and the growth of pathogenic organisms in both natural and processed cheeses. Production of lower fat cheeses has been an industry priority, a goal consistent with public health and consumer demand for good tasting, low fat foods. Water replaces fat in these cheeses, and salt is needed to maintain the appropriate moisture ratios.
While alternative solutions may become available as a result of on-going research, non-aqueous alternatives currently are not readily available. Therefore, tradeoffs between lower fat and lower sodium products could be necessary. The low sodium cheese options that have been available in the marketplace have not been well received by consumers.
The American Butter Institute (ABI) also submitted comments to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In the comments, ABI noted that unsalted butter is currently available in the marketplace, achieving about 1/5th market share for the entire butter category. Salt is not added to butter for volume/filler purposes, but to achieve the desired safety and organoleptic properties. Salt plays a critical role in the butter manufacturing process by controlling the activities of microorganisms and enzymes. Salt levels affect butter flavor, texture, and shelf life. Salt is also a significant factor in minimizing the growth of pathogenic organisms in butter. While unsalted butter does represent a reduced-sodium alternative for some consumers, substitution of some lactic acid for some salt cannot result in equivalent functionality for its bacteriostatic and organoleptic properties.
NMPF Responds to NYC National Sodium Reduction Initiative: October 28, 2009
NMPF sent a letter to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene regarding the national sodium reduction initiative. The letter, specifically relating to the discussion of frozen and refrigerated pizza, questioned the rationale behind the recommendation for a 30% sodium reduction in pizza, particularly without further clarification about targets for component ingredients in pizza. Instead, NMPF believed that a broader approach which addressed lifestyle, diet, and exercise in a broader context, such as that demonstrated in the DASH clinical trials, would offer the greatest potential for public health benefit.
New York City Announces National Sodium Reduction Initiative: September 29, 2009
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene launched a “nationwide” initiative, asking the food industry, including cheese manufacturers, to voluntarily commit to reducing sodium levels in their products. The goal was to reduce the daily intake of sodium by 20% by 2014, with the premise that reductions in sodium across the entire food supply will lead to reductions in sodium intake. The program was modeled after one launched in the UK several years ago.
In the summer of 2009, the Department shared sodium targets for five cheese categories (a first target was to be met by 2012; a second higher target was to be met by 2014), and requested input on the feasibility of meeting these targets. NMPF responded by submitting a letter to the department that explained the challenges associated with producing cheeses that meet these criteria.
NMPF Cautions IOM Committee in Considering Ways to Reduce U.S. Sodium Intake: August 17, 2009
In a letter to the Institute of Medicine (IOM)’s Committee on Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake, NMPF cautioned the use of blanket recommendations that could have a negative impact on the nutritional composition of a person's diet without addressing the nutrient, caloric, and sodium content of the diet in a moderate and achievable manner that would be the most effective in ensuring the public health.
Sodium contribution of dairy products was approximately 11.1% of total U.S. intake, of which cheese accounted for approximately 7.8%. From a technological perspective, reducing sodium is particularly challenging in cheese manufacturing, as it plays significant roles in terms of safety, functionality, and quality.
The full letter is available here.