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Sixteen major food companies have become the first to commit to New York City’s National Salt Reduction Initiative, according to

The initiative, developed in conjunction with national health organizations over the past two years, will set targets for sodium reduction in packaged foods, which are estimated to contribute about 75% of the average American’s sodium intake. Industry was invited to comment on the proposed targets in January.

The report says the National Salt Reduction Initiative intends to monitor sodium levels in 62 categories of packaged food and 25 categories of restaurant food, and to hold industry accountable for meeting those targets. The 16 companies that signed up to the program include some key players in the industry, such as Kraft, Unilever, Heinz, and McCain Foods.

Sodium is a major contributor to high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. These diseases cause around 23,000 deaths a year in New York City, and more than 800,000 nationwide, deaths that state officials claim could be prevented by reducing sodium consumption, according to the report.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “By working together over the past two years, we have been able to accomplish something many said was impossible; setting concrete, achievable goals for salt reduction.”

He added that the initiative has the potential to cut tens of thousands of deaths from cardiovascular disease in the coming years.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently published a report on US sodium intake, in which it urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take regulatory action to reduce sodium in the nation’s food.

According to figures from the US Department of Agriculture, Americans currently consume about 4,000 mg of sodium a day – far more than the limit recommended by public health experts, of 2,300 mg. The IOM and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put average consumption at 3,400 mg a day, or about 50% more than the recommended maximum.

The National Salt Reduction Initiative partnership now includes 18 national health organizations, 29 cities, states and related entities, and the 16 food companies that committed to the program yesterday. The companies involved are: Au Bon Pain, Boar’s Head, FreshDirect, Goya, Hain Celestial, Heinz, Kraft, LiDestri, Mars Food, McCain Foods, Red Gold, Starbucks, Subway, Unilever, Uno Chicago Grill and White Rose.


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