Trade associations monitor US plans to cut sodium

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

US plans to cut salt levels in food could impact UK exports
US plans to cut salt levels in food could impact UK exports

Related tags: Social responsibility, International trade

UK exporters are watching developments across the Atlantic closely, following the US publication of ambitious sodium targets for food manufacturers.

Both the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and Food and Drink Exporters Association (FDEA) said they would monitor the guidance issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its likely impact on UK manufacturers.

In draft voluntary guidance, the FDA outlined short-term, two-year targets that would reduce average daily sodium intake by 11.8%. Longer-term targets for 10-years would cut an average consumption by 23%, it claimed.

The FDA said it recognised the efforts already made by many food and drink manufacturers on salt reduction.

‘Totally unaware of it’

The FDEA’s Nicola Thomas said: “Those with extensive active interests in the US will no doubt be taking an active look at the guidance, however, there may be others who are totally unaware of it.

"While there is no compulsory aspect at this stage it may be something that companies can use to their advantage in their marketing and corporate social responsibility materials, if their products are low in salt.

"Those that may be concerned, meanwhile, may wish to start to think about whether it’s possible to amend recipes to adapt to the changing landscape.”

Tim Rycroft, director of corporate affairs at the FDF, said many UK companies had already been voluntarily reducing sodium in their products.

‘Not represent an impedient’

“As the draft guidance in the US is voluntary, this will not represent an impediment to trade for UK products being exported to the US; it will be down to individual companies as to whether or not they wish to comply with the guidance,”​ said Rycroft. 

“It is too early to know whether this may change the commercial landscape in the US with regard to whether they may wish to start importing products which already meet this guidance, but UK products which already comply due to the voluntary targets here may benefit.

“It is pleasing to see that the US guidance on sodium reduction applies equally to the out of home sector from the start, as this can be an important contributor of sodium to the diet.”

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