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Center for Science in the Public Interest v. Food and Drug Administration

In 2005, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed a citizen petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking it to, among other things, (1) revoke the “generally recognized as safe” status of salt, an action that would render salt a food additive subject to more stringent regulation for certain uses, (2) amend any “prior sanctions” (i.e., agency approvals) for other uses of salt, (3) require food manufacturers to reduce the amount of sodium in all processed foods, including foods sold to restaurants, and (4) require health messages on retail packages of salt one-half ounce or larger. Although FDA opened a rulemaking docket for the petition and solicited public comments, it did not provide a substantive response to CSPI for a decade. Public Citizen represented CSPI, which sued FDA in 2015 to challenge the agency’s unlawful delay in responding to the petition. The agency ultimately denied the specific action that CSPI had sought, but it simultaneously released voluntary sodium-reduction targets that proposed maximum sodium levels for many processed and restaurant foods.