US Dairy Companies Asked to Reduce Salt in Cheese

US - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued draft guidance to encourage US food companies to reach voluntary sodium reduction targets for their products.
calendar icon 8 June 2016
clock icon 2 minute read

Noting that the average sodium intake per person is approximately 3,400 milligrams (mg) per day, FDA drafted two-year and 10-year targets for industry to help the American public gradually reduce sodium intake to 2,300 mg a day.

According to FDA, Americans eat almost 50 per cent more sodium than what most experts recommend, and the majority comes from processed and prepared foods, not the salt shaker.

Although the guidance acknowledged existing efforts by food companies, restaurants and foodservice operations to reduce sodium in foods, FDA strongly encouraged companies with products that make up a significant portion of national sales and restaurant chains that are national and regional in scope to adopt the new targets.

The draft guidance established voluntary reduction targets for many processed and prepared foods, placing them in nearly 150 categories, from bakery products to soups. The targets factor in data on consumer preferences and consider the many functions of sodium in food, including taste, texture, microbial safety, and stability.

Cheese is one of the categories identified for sodium reduction, and was broken into 13 groups by different types of cheese. Cheese-based sauces and dips were listed in a separate category, and cheese-based appetisers and pizzas and sandwiches made with cheese were included with other combination foods. Butter and cream-based dips, including sour cream and cream cheese dips, also have targets, but no other dairy products were mentioned.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) said cheese represents only about 8 per cent of the sodium in the American diet, and many cheese makers continue to look for ways to reduce the amount of sodium needed to make one of America’s favourite foods.

“Salt is a critical component of the cheese-making process as it controls moisture, texture, taste, functionality and food safety. Although salt cannot be completely eliminated, some cheeses require less than others,” said Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs.

“The cheese industry continues to work on process and product developments to help lower sodium - all while maintaining strict expectations for food safety and taste.”

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