NEW YORK CITY -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised 21 packaged food companies and restaurants for meeting their targets in a voluntary campaign led by New York City to cut the salt content in foods.
In 2009, Bloomberg announced his affiliation with the National Salt Reduction Initiative, a nationwide partnership of more than 90 city and state health authorities and organizations coordinated by New York City. Its goal is ultimately to reduce salt in the nation's food by a quarter by next year.
Many participating manufacturers are well on their way, having reached the interim targets that were set for 2012, according to the mayor. Among them are Kraft Foods, which has reduced the sodium in its Singles cheese slices by 18%; Unilever, which cut the salt content in its tomato sauce by 20%; and Subway, which has reduced sodium in two of its most popular sandwiches by more than 27%.
"These companies have a huge presence on our shelves and in our diets," Bloomberg said at a news conference at City Hall on Feb. 11, surrounded by executives from some of the nation's biggest food companies.
Bloomberg noted that most Americans consume twice as much sodium as they should, which may lead to an increase in blood pressure and the risk of heart disease or stroke. And 80% of salt in our diet comes from either eating out or eating prepackaged food, making it challenge for most consumers to monitor or reduce their intake. Much of that salt comes from foods that don't always taste salty, such as bread, cold cuts, cookies and tomato sauce.
"Prior to our National Salt Reduction Initiative, there was no comprehensive approach to lowering sodium in foods, and many questioned whether companies would step up to meet a voluntary pledge," said Mayor Bloomberg. "These companies have demonstrated their commitment to removing excess sodium from their products and to working with public health authorities toward a shared goal -- helping their customers lead longer, healthier lives."
The three-term mayor has been steadfast in his efforts to modify New Yorkers' eating habits, including a rule set to take effect in March limiting the size of sugary drinks, banning trans fat from restaurant meals and mandating that food chains post calorie counts on their menus.