On Feb. 11, New York’s Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Gibbs, and Health Commissioner Farley issued a joint press release announcing that 21 companies have voluntarily lowered the salt content of their products in response to the National Salt Reduction Initiative. The NSRI is a partnership of 90 state and local health authorities, along with national health organizations, that are committed to helping Americans reduce salt intake. So far, 28 companies have agreed to lower the salt content of their products.
The Tennessee Department of Health is among those who signed the initiative to “work toward the goal of reducing population salt intake by at least 20% during the next five years by setting targets and monitoring progress through a transparent, public process.”
Salt intake has steadily increased since the 1980’s, despite Food and Drug Administration’s 1982 Dietary Sodium Initiative. The NSRI statement of commitment notes that from the early 70’s to the year 2000, there was a 48% increase in sodium intake for men and a whopping 69% increase for women.
But it’s not that people are dumping more salt onto their food: ready-made products with high sodium content are a major factor in this trend. Mayor Bloomberg says, “Most salt in the diets of Americans -- nearly 80 percent -- comes from packaged or restaurant foods, not table salt or home cooking.” This, he adds, makes it challenging for anyone to monitor or reduce their own sodium intake. Linda Van Horn, PhD. a volunteer for The American Heart Association (AHA)/ American Stroke Association agrees. In an AHA announcement issued on Nov. 7, 2012, that called out the “Salty Six”, she said, “Excess sodium in our diets has less to do with what we’re adding to our food and more to do with what’s already in our food.”
The salty six foods named in that report were: breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup, and sandwiches.
The health risks posed by eating too much salt on a regular basis are all-too-prevalent in the South: high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Reducing sodium can help reduce these risks.
On the list of 28 companies that agreed to pursue NSRI targets for salt content are some big names like Heinz, Campbell Soup Company, Subway, Target, Kraft Foods and Starbucks Coffee Company.