WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration held a public hearing here yesterday to determine whether or how to limit or otherwise reduce the salt content in processed foods. Among those testifying was Robert Earl, senior director of nutrition policy for the Grocery Manufacturers Association. “There is absolutely no reason for the FDA to revoke the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status of salt,” he said in a statement. “GMA and its food industry members are committed to developing food products that meet both the consumer’s taste requirements and growing preference for products that address individual health and wellness goals. When it comes to public health, FDA should focus its policy priorities on improving overall food choices and dietary patterns, rather than unwarranted regulatory changes.” The hearing was held in response to petitions introduced by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. CSPI first petitioned the FDA in 1978 and sued the agency in federal court for its “foot dragging” in 1983, according to CSPI. In 2005, it filed a second lawsuit against the FDA, accusing it of not making good on its promises to press food companies to voluntarily reduce salt content in foods. Later that year, CSPI filed another formal petition with the agency urging it to regulate salt. Although the dietary guidelines recommend that Americans limit themselves to 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, half the population is advised to consume even less, more like 1,500 mg, according to CSPI. The average daily sodium intake is around 4,000 mg, it says.
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