Challenges and Opportunities in Creating Lower Sodium Products

November 10, 2011

IFT's oral comments provided at FDA, CDC, FSIS, ARS, and CNPP's Joint Public Meeting
on Approaches to Reduce Sodium Consumption
November 10, 2011 in Silver Spring, Maryland
IFT's will submit written comments by November 29, 2011

Hello, my name is William Fisher.  I am the Vice President of Science and Policy Initiatives with the Institute of Food Technologists.   

Founded in 1939, IFT is a nonprofit scientific society working to advance the science of food. 

IFT appreciates this opportunity to offer a scientific perspective and practical insights on:

  1. the research advances and challenges of sodium reduction initiatives;
  2. the need for public funding to address critical knowledge gaps; and
  3. the role of food scientists in a well-designed national sodium reduction initiative.

Over the last three decades, food scientists achieved lower levels of sodium in key food categories while maintaining critical product attributes, such as microbiological safety, taste, texture, structural integrity, and nutrition.  Emerging sodium reduction techniques hold promise in helping Americans meet the Dietary Guidelines.

Despite the importance placed on food-based solutions to sodium reduction, public funding for investigating food science and technological approaches to sodium reduction is limited.  With adequate support, food scientists can ensure sodium reduction initiatives move forward while assuring there is sufficient time and scientific evidence for these initiatives, especially with respect to food quality and food safety.  Food scientists can also research further how reducing caloric intake together with lower sodium and higher potassium levels in the diet may be more beneficial in reducing population hypertension, as well as other weight-related chronic diseases.  In addition, food scientists can advance our understanding of the physiological response and consumer acceptance of food-based sodium reduction strategies in non-clinical populations, and for a variety of subgroups such as age, race, and health status. 

Besides lack of public funding, our national monitoring approaches have limited capacity to accurately capture in real-time the sodium content of predominant dietary sodium sources.  Equally as important, our monitoring approaches must improve their accuracy and real-time assessment of the average daily sodium intake by Americans.      

The Institute of Medicine Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States report called for a "well-researched, coordinated, deliberate, and monitored process" to national sodium reduction initiatives.  Food scientists were specifically identified as integral stakeholders in establishing feasible, safe, and commercially viable targets and timelines for gradual, step-wise sodium reductions in our food supply. 

Our community of food professionals embraces their role in reducing hypertension.  But a more comprehensive approach to the role of food versus a single nutrient like sodium may be more effective at delivering positive nutrition, reducing disease and deficiencies, and helping weight management.

In conclusion, the IFT community of food professionals continues to advance the food science and technological research of food-based sodium reduction initiatives.  We look forward to sharing our experience and expertise in the development of a strong, strategic, and sustainable national sodium reduction initiative.

Thank you.

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The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a nonprofit scientific society.  Our individual members are professionals engaged in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government.  IFT's mission is to advance the science of food, and our long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply, contributing to healthier people everywhere.

For more than 70 years, IFT has been unlocking the potential of the food science community by creating a dynamic global forum where members from more than 100 countries can share, learn, and grow.  We champion the use of sound science across the food value chain through the exchange of knowledge, by providing education, and by furthering the advancement of the profession.  IFT has offices in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, D.C.  For more information, please visit ift.org.

 

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