NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday that 21 of 24 restaurants and packaged food companies that accepted the challenge to reduce sodium have hit one or more of their targets.
Mayor Bloomberg said reducing salt intake is not just about laying off the table salt.
“Eighty percent of the salt we eat comes not from your salt shaker but from packaged and restaurant foods,” said Bloomberg.
“The problem is not the salt on the table, the problem is the salt on the label,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley added.
In 2010, the city set voluntary salt guidelines for various restaurant and store-bought foods through the National Salt Reduction Initiative. Health officials noted that Americans eat about twice as much salt as they should.
Bloomberg said to cut down on the intake of sodium, it is crucial to have food manufacturers as partners in this new initiative.
“Kraft reduced the amount of sodium in Kraft Singles American Slices by 18 percent, Subway reduced sodium in two of its most popular sandwiches,” including Bloomberg’s personal favorite, the Italian BMT. “I was eating them before and I’ll continue to eat them again, I guess.”
The city estimates that about 90 percent of Americans consume too much sodium.
“Our consumers have not noticed the change because we’ve been able to do it in a way that the products continue to taste great,” Kraft Food Vice President Russ Moroz said.
Other products that met their reduced sodium goal include Butterball cold cuts, Heinz ketchup, Starbucks breakfast sandwiches and Teddy Grahams cookies.
“The products they are making healthier are some of America’s most beloved and iconic foods, so the incremental efforts they’ve voluntarily made to reduce salt are going to have a big impact on public health,” said Bloomberg. “How big? Well, consider the following facts: salt is a major contributor to high blood pressure or hypertension, which in turn leads to heart disease and stroke. And together, these conditions kill more than 20,000 people each year in New York City alone.”
The National Salt Reduction Initiative is a nationwide partnership of more than 90 city and state health authorities with the goal of cutting excess salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25 percent over five years, according to a press release from the mayor’s office.
The voluntary effort would help reduce the nation’s sodium intake by 20 percent, according to the release.
The salt campaign is one in series of novel but controversial healthy-eating initiatives on Bloomberg’s 11-year watch. Others include banning trans fats from restaurant meals and limiting the size of some sugary drinks.
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