The Washington Post reported yesterday that the FDA is about to launch an initiative to get food companies to reduce the sodium in their foods.
If true, this would be a big deal. But by late afternoon, the FDA had issued a press release denying the paper's report:
A story in today's Washington Post leaves a mistaken impression that the FDA has begun the process of regulating the amount of sodium in foods. The FDA is not currently working on regulations nor has it made a decision to regulate sodium content in foods at this time.
Over the coming weeks, the FDA will more thoroughly review the recommendations of the IOM report and build plans for how the FDA can continue to work with other federal agencies, public health and consumer groups, and the food industry to support the reduction of sodium levels in the food supply.
The FDA is referring to a report issued yesterday by the Institute of Medicine: "Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States." According to the IOM summary (click here for a PDF), voluntary efforts by the food industry to reduce sodium intake have failed. The report's first recommendation is for the government to set standards for the sodium content of packaged foods. And that sounds like what the Washington Post thought the FDA was about to do.
The idea is to get all companies to start reducing sodium. USA Today quotes Jane Henney, the previous FDA commissioner who chaired the IOM committee: "The best way to accomplish this is to provide companies the level playing field they need so they are able to work across the board to reduce salt in the food supply."