US - In joint comments filed on Monday, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) called for removal of the entire cheese category from recent sodium reduction guidance.
In June, the Food and Drug Administration issued draft guidance to encourage US food companies to reach voluntary sodium reduction targets for their products, aiming to help consumers reduce sodium consumption from an average of 3,400 milligrams (mg) per day to 2,300 mg a day.
“The dairy industry faces significant barriers to sodium reduction, and our efforts to find safe and effective means of reducing sodium in our products have been extensive and will continue,” the comments stated. “However, in good faith we cannot agree to the proposed targets when we cannot be assured of technology to achieve those targets within the given time-frames without compromising on product safety and quality.”
The comments outlined in detail the crucial role salt plays in the manufacture of process cheese and ripening of natural cheeses. Unlike in other foods, sodium is added in specific amounts for specific purposes in each specific cheese type, is not added in excess, and is not added in amounts beyond that needed for microbial safety, stability and physical integrity.
IDFA and NMPF recommended that FDA go back to the drawing board on cheese standards, thoroughly revisiting its categories and reassessing the wisdom of applying a blanket percentage reduction to all cheeses, including those that are already relatively low in sodium.
In addition to cheese, IDFA and NMPF expressed serious concerns about the appropriateness, accuracy and impact of the proposed voluntary sodium reduction targets for butter and cream-based dips.
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