Group Suing FDA For Failing To Cut Excess Sodium In The Food Supply

A nonprofit food safety and nutrition watchdog group is taking the Food and Drug Administration to federal court, claiming the agency hasn’t reduced sodium in packaged and other foods. This puts Americans at risk for stroke, heart disease and other health problems, the lawsuit claims.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest says in its complaint [PDF] that the FDA failed to cut down on salt — the main source of sodium — in the food supply, despite a 10-year-old petition asking it to do so.

“For more than 35 years, FDA has dragged its feet and refused to do anything to protect Americans from excess sodium in the food supply,” said CSPI President Michael F. Jacobson. “The government’s inaction condemns hundreds of thousands of Americans to early deaths due to preventable strokes and heart attacks.”

In the 2005 petition, CSPI asked the FDA to put the kibosh on salt’s status as a “generally recognized as safe” substance (GRAS), and to treat it as a food additive under the law. It also urged the agency to require food manufacturers to eventually reduce how much sodium is used in different categories of food, and to require health messages on packages of table salt sold at stores that are a half ounce or larger.

CSPI notes that some food products have cut down on sodium in the last 10 years, but others have simply added even more back into their recipes. Though individual companies have made efforts to reduce sodium, CSPI says that because the FDA isn’t acting, we’re still eating too much salt as a population.

“The Food and Drug Administration has been promising results on sodium reduction since the Reagan Administration and our petition has been pending since the George W. Bush Administration,” Jacobson said. “It is our hope that the court will tell the Obama Administration that it is breaking the law and causing needless deaths and medical expenses by stalling on salt.”