On March 24, the FDA announced that it intends to amend the standards of identity (SOIs) to permit the use of salt substitutes in foods for which salt is a required or optional ingredient. The proposed rule would provide manufacturers with flexibility and facilitate industry innovation to reduce sodium in standardized foods.
The proposed rule is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, which provides a roadmap of actions the federal government will take to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases by 2030. The upcoming proposed rule also complements the goals of the FDA’s voluntary sodium reduction targets for processed, packaged and prepared foods.
Currently, most FDA SOIs do not permit the use of salt substitutes. The proposed rule would use a “horizontal” approach for SOIs, under which a single rule would apply to multiple SOIs across several categories of standardized foods.
Specifically, the proposed rule would amend the 80 SOIs that specify salt as a required or an optional ingredient. Because these 80 SOIs are referenced in other SOIs, the FDA notes that 140 of the 250 SOIs currently established for a wide variety of foods could be affected.
The proposed rule does not list permitted salt substitutes but defines them as safe and suitable ingredients used to replace some or all of the added sodium chloride and that serve the functions of salt in food. The extent to which salt can be replaced depends on the ability of a salt substitute to replace the functions of salt in food without compromising food safety and the characteristics of the food.
The FDA is requesting comments on potential salt substitutes that may be used as a result of the new flexibility provided in this proposed rule. Comments can be submitted until 120 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. Electronic comments can be submitted at Regulations.gov.