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FDA Extends Two Comment Periods On Draft Industry Guidance On Voluntary Sodium Cuts

IDFA, NMPF, GMA Among Groups Seeking More Time To Review Proposed Sodium Reduction Targets

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday announced that it is extending the two comment periods for the draft guidance to industry it issued earlier this year for voluntarily reducing sodium.

On June 1, 2016, FDA released draft guidance that provides voluntary sodium reduction targets for a variety of cheese, butter and other food products. The comment period for issues primarily related to the draft short-term (two-year) sodium reduction targets was to have ended on August 31, 2016, while the comment period for issues primarily related to the draft long-term (10-year) sodium reduction targets was to have ended on October 31, 2016.

Now, the comment period for the voluntary short-term goals will end on October 17, 2016, and the comment period for the voluntary long-term goals will end on December 2, 2016.

FDA said it received eight requests from industry trade associations to extend both comment periods to provide a total of 180 days for comment on the short- and long-term targets and three requests from consumer and public health organizations for the comment period regarding the short-term targets to remain unchanged.

In requesting an extension of the comment period, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) said additional time is needed “to facilitate comprehensive review and comment. This additional time will allow us to conduct a thorough review of the proposed targets and the current scientific research available on sodium, to provide comment on the cheese and dairy categories, baseline sodium levels, and targets, and to consider the overall approach taken in the Draft Guidance.”

Preparation of IDFA’s comments “will require technical review of each of the proposed targets, and coordination within each of our respective member companies’ research and development and regulatory teams as well as discussions with suppliers,” IDFA said. An extended comment period “would afford stakeholders a greater ability to provide comprehensive answers to FDA’s questions.”

The National Milk Producers Federation’s (NMPF) members are farmer-owned dairy cooperatives that manufacture and sell cheese, butter and other dairy products and ingredients.

“An adequate evaluation of FDA’s draft guidance requires the involvement of, and

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