IFT Supports New Sodium Reduction Efforts

May 3, 2010


Mindy Weinstein

IFT Supports New Sodium Reduction Efforts

Washington, DC—The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) today offered its support to help the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) meet the challenges of reducing the amount of sodium in foods.

To build plans that support FDA goals to improve consumer health and continue progress on food safety, it will require a concerted public-private collaboration involving federal agencies, scientific societies, academic institutions, public health advocates, consumer groups, and the food industry.

“Significant progress has been made in reformulating food products, but considerable challenges remain,” said IFT President Marianne Gillette. “Food manufacturers must balance the multiple functions of sodium in food in addition to taste. Changing the sodium content in food impacts microbiological safety, flavor balance and quality, texture, mouthfeel, preservation, color and nutritional properties of a product. Today, there is no single ideal substitute for all the functional properties that sodium chloride provides in foods.“

There continues to be a need for additional scientific research as noted by the Institute of Medicine in its recently issued report entitled “Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States.” IFT agrees with the research needs identified by the IOM committee, in particular the need to develop innovative methods to reduce sodium in foods while maintaining palatability, physical properties and safety. In addition, there is a critical need to identify outcome-based public health metrics that are expected to result from any broad based reduction in sodium in foods.

“Sodium reduction is only one part of the equation when it comes to improving overall health. There also continues to be a great need to focus on the quality of overall diet and lifestyle to enable consumers to achieve wellness,” said Gillette.

IFT continues to offer its expertise and assistance to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as it reviews options and next steps on sodium.

Many food companies are already making important strides towards lowering sodium in products or have announced their intent to do so. However, the minimum sodium level in foods acceptable to consumers must be explored further, and there is a need for more research focusing on a graduated reduction of sodium in processed foods. There also is a need for a broader partnership between the food industry and public health officials. In particular, food scientists and technologists have a tremendous role to play in sodium reduction through reformulation of foods and beverages, as well as through the creation of recipes for food service and consumers.

“Adapting to a lower sodium diet is best done in small sequential steps, and will require behavioral changes for most Americans,” said Gillette. “A partnership between behavioral scientists, the food profession and public health officials is necessary to determine the most effective ways to enable individuals to change existing behavior.”

For more information, contact Jerry Bowman, Vice President of Communications and Media Relations at 312.604.0256 or jbowman@ift.org.

Listen to IFT President Elect Roger Clemens, DrPh discuss the impact of sodium reduction efforts.