NMPF, IDFA Object to FDA’s Revised Sodium Guidance

NMPF and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) are planning to comment on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance released Oct. 13 that improperly treats sodium’s role in dairy processing as part of voluntary short-term goals for sodium content in commercially processed, packaged, and prepared foods.

The effort is meant to reduce excess sodium intake over the next 2.5 years while recognizing and supporting the important roles sodium plays in food technology and food safety. But in NMPF’s opinion, FDA got it wrong. NMPF and IDFA in 2016 jointly filed two sets of comments to address countless issues we saw in the then-proposed guidance. The organizations informed FDA that sodium plays a complex and multi-faceted role in cheesemaking that goes well beyond flavor. The comments called for FDA to remove all cheeses and butter from its guidance; other dairy products are not included in the guidance, as they do not contribute a meaningful amount of sodium to the diet.

The final guidance called for sodium reduction in cheese as categorized below:

  • From 3.6% reduction up to 17% in 14 cheese categories and several cheese related categories (sauces, dips and spreads);
  • A 3.6% reduction in natural cheese Blue with Swiss topping out at 9%; and
  • Mozzarella sticks and cheese curds were categorized as appetizers which FDA recommended for a 17% reduction.

The guidance has an open-ended comment period, during which NMPF will be collaborating with IDFA in a forceful response to FDA’s inappropriate action. In the interim, it is important to note this is voluntary. No cheese manufacturer should do anything that would ruin the quality of its products or jeopardize food safety.