FDA Commissioner Offers Look at Agency’s Direction
In a speech at the National Food Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb reportedly summarized the agency’s plans, including (i) defining “healthy” for use with a food-labeling icon, (ii) implementing delayed updates to nutrition labels, and (iii) creating a strategy for reduction in salt consumption.
Gottlieb reportedly said FDA will explore possible changes to nutrient-content claims. “People eat foods, not nutrients,” he is quoted as saying. “This is why we’re asking the important question of whether a modernized definition of ‘healthy’ should go beyond nutrients to better reflect dietary patterns and food groups, like whole grains, lowfat dairy, fruits and vegetables and healthy oils.”
FDA will also propose short-term, voluntary targets for salt and sodium reduction from the current average daily intake of 3,400 milligrams to no more than 3,000 milligrams. “There remains no single more effective public health action related to nutrition than the reduction of sodium in the diet,” Gottlieb reportedly said. “Excess sodium in the diet results in hypertension, which increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks.” He also asserted that reducing sodium intake by one-half teaspoon per day could prevent nearly 100,000 premature deaths each year as well as 120,000 cases of coronary heart disease, 66,000 strokes and 99,000 heart attacks. The agency may also change labeling rules to better communicate that products contain salt. “We’ve been petitioned to allow the use of alternative names for potassium chloride, to make it clear that this product is a salt, and we’re actively considering the request,” Gottlieb said.
Gottlieb also announced that FDA will implement changes to nutrition labels previously scheduled to take effect in July 2018.