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salt and other sodium-containing compounds in the context of the safety of substances added to foods. Next, the regulatory requirements that pertain to nutrition information provided to the consumer and the requirements related to making claims about food products are outlined. In addition, the application of federal regulations to restaurant/foodservice operations is discussed.


Protecting, enhancing, and preserving food by using “food additives” began in ancient times, undoubtedly long before documented history. The Romans added sulfites to wine as a preservative and Europeans sought spices not only to flavor but also to preserve foods. There is evidence that many cultures and geographic regions used salt as a preservative, especially for meats (Folkenberg, 1988). In the absence of a scientific understanding of the effects of such substances, it was assumed that they were safe unless they poisoned the consumer.

Today, one role of government is to ensure that the food sold to its citizens is safe to eat. The history for such authority in the United States begins with the Food and Drugs Act of 1906,1 but the key provisions for the purposes of this report rest within the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938.2 This act was passed after a legally marketed elixir killed 107 people. Thus, the act was specifically intended to overhaul the public health system in the United States.3 Among other provisions, the law authorized the government agency now housed in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue standards for foods and to demand evidence of safety for new drugs.

Concerns about the possible long-term harmful effects of food chemicals on health led Congress in 1958 to enact the Food Additives Amendment,4 which became Section 409 of the 1938 act (hereafter referred to as the 1958 Amendment) to ensure the safety of substances added to foods.5 Salt—sodium chloride—is a substance intentionally added to food by manufacturers; therefore the provisions of this amendment apply to salt as well as to any other sodium-containing compound added to foods.

As illustrated in Figure 7-1, the 1958 Amendment specified that sub-


Food and Drugs Act of 1906, Public Law 59-384, 34 Stat 768; 21 USC § 1-15 (1934); repealed in 1938 by 21 USC § 329(a).


Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, Public Law 75-717; 52 Stat 1040.


Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2009. Available online: (accessed October 2, 2009).


Food Additives Amendment of 1958, Public Law 85-929; 72 Stat 1784.


21 USC 348 and 342(a)(2)(C), and 21 CFR 170-179.

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