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Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States
Further, FDA would have to consider salt’s technical or functional effects in food. In any rulemaking to set standards for the level of added salt in processed food, FDA would have to solicit and analyze food industry information on the intended uses and technical effects of added salt.
Importantly for this report, FDA’s authority under food additives law extends to uses of salt in foods that are under the jurisdiction of other federal agencies. For example, the use of sodium enhancement solutions intended to tenderize raw meat and poultry products that are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is subject to the 1958 Amendment.12 Thus, the safety of these solutions (i.e., their risk to human health) is subject to FDA regulation. In turn, these uses of salt-containing compounds would need to be considered by FDA in reviewing the GRAS status of salt.
While FDA is charged with administering the food additives safety provisions that are applicable to meat and poultry products that are under USDA jurisdiction, USDA has its own regulatory authorities that would allow it to implement other suitable and appropriate provisions for meat and poultry products including labeling and the prohibition of deceptive uses of substances and solutions added to meat and poultry. These provisions may have sizeable impact given that USDA is responsible for food products that contain 2 percent or more by weight of meat and poultry which, in turn, constitute about 20 percent of the U.S. food supply. In 2009, USDA issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking related to the labeling of meat and poultry products, specifically regarding the use of the voluntary claim “natural” on such products (USDA/FSIS, 2009a). USDA specifically requested comment on whether it should approve a “natural” claim on meat and poultry products that have been enhanced with solutions that contain “natural” ingredients.
Finally, FDA would also have to address the question of so-called prior-sanctioned uses of salt. In its 1982 Policy Notice on salt (HHS/FDA, 1982), FDA noted the possibility that there may be uses of salt in processed food that had received FDA’s approval prior to 1958 and thus could be deemed prior-sanctioned. These particular uses, approved before the 1958 law went into effect, were grandfathered (i.e., not made subject to the food additive law). The 1982 Notice does not identify any prior-sanctioned uses, the agency does not maintain a listing of such uses, and the Committee’s search for prior-sanctioned uses of salt or sodium failed to locate such uses for salt or sodium. Nonetheless, it may be assumed some could exist for specific products. As a practical matter, prior-sanctioned uses are likely to
Food Additives Amendment of 1958, Public Law 85-929, 72 Stat 1784.