FDA Releases Guidance for Voluntary Sodium Reductions for Food Industry

October 18, 2021

October 13, 2021

On October 13, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released guidance for voluntary sodium reductions for the food industry. This guidance is for food manufacturers and does not directly impact schools. 

The guidance provides targets for food companies and restaurants to the reduce sodium in their foods by about 12 percent over the next 2½ years in an effort to reduce excess population sodium intake. This goal would reduce Americans’ sodium intake from 3,400 to 3,000 milligrams a day.

The guidance includes sodium reduction targets for 163 categories of food ranging from condiments to frozen foods. Many critics say that the voluntary nature of the guidance makes it unlikely that manufacturers will make the changes necessary as it will require reformulation and marketing, which will be costly. However, the FDA stated that it will monitor progress and “reward companies that comply”.

The only impact to schools will be trickle-down as the foods they receive will have reduced sodium content if manufacturers decide to participate. The current sodium requirements for school meals are not impacted by this guidance. AASA supports flexibilities for school meal programs, including those for sodium targets, and sent a letter to Congress on October 8, in partnership with 15 national organizations, urging them to maintain these flexibilities.