News 343 views update:Jan 15, 2007

USDA asked to limit salt in poultry

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been petitioned to set limits on the levels of salt that can be used in meat and poultry products.

The citizen petition was filed by consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). It comes just over a year after the group petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to revoke the "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) status of salt.

According to CSPI's latest petition, the wide variations in the amounts of salt found in different brands of similar meat and poultry products “clearly demonstrate that it is feasible for the firms making high-sodium products to lower sodium levels and still have tasty products that would be competitive in the market place.”

Excess sodium has been shown to increase the chance of developing hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. According to the American Medical Association, most Americans consume two to three times the amount of sodium that is healthy, with an estimated 75 to 80% of the daily intake of sodium coming from processed and restaurant foods. There is growing consumer and regulatory concern with reformulation efforts.

The USDA already sets ceilings on numerous ingredients used in the preparation of meat and poultry products such as citric acid, sodium citrate, potassium lactate, calcium lactate, sodium lactate, tocopherol, sodium caseinate, dry or dried whey, ascorbic acid, and sodium ascorbate.

In addition, the regulatory agency already has a ceiling on the amount of salt that can be used in chilling raw poultry products.

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