2010-11-26 / Top Stories

Large Companies Join Salt Reduction Program

Hostess, Butterball, Snyder’s of Hanover, Premio, Furmano’s and Delhaize America are the latest major food companies to sign on to the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI), the Health Department announced today. These companies join 16 of the nation’s leading food makers in a nationwide effort to cut the salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25 percent over five years – an achievement that would reduce the nation’s salt intake by 20 percent and prevent tens of thousands of deaths each year due to conditions caused by high blood pressure. The addition of these companies demonstrates their dedication to leading the food industry toward a healthier food supply. The initiative has developed specific targets to guide company salt reductions across 62 categories of packaged food and 25 categories of restaurant food. The food companies committing to targets today will reduce sodium in 29 of the NSRI packaged food categories. Heinz is expanding its earlier commitment to include some frozen entrees, in addition to ketchup and tomato sauce.

Butterball is a popular brandname manufacturer of turkey, poultry, and deli meats, as well as specialty products. The company commits to meeting the NSRI sodium reduction targets in deli meat and hot dogs. Delhaize America has 1600 supermarkets along the East Coast whose stores include Bloom, Bottom Dollar Food, Hannaford, Food Lion, Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid’s. The company will reduce sodium levels in the products it manufactures across 22 packagedfood categories, including frozen pizza, cereal and butter. Furmano’s, a supplier of foods to consumers and restaurants, will cut salt across its varieties of canned beans, baked beans and tomatoes.

Heinz, which made an initial commitment for its ketchup brand and Classico tomato sauce, is increasing its commitment to include frozen pizza and entrees.

Hostess, one of the largest wholesale bakeries in the country, produces bread, snack cakes and donuts under many brand names, including Wonder and Nature’s Pride. The company commits to reducing salt across its entire line of bread products. Family-owned Premio is the maker of 20 different sausage products. It commits to decreasing salt in its uncooked sausages. Snyder’s of Hanover, the nation’s largest pretzel maker, also produces potato chips, tortilla chips and a brand of low-fat snack foods.

The manufacturer already meets the NSRI target for pretzels and now commits to cutting the salt in its unflavored chips. These companies join Au Bon Pain, Boar’s Head, FreshDirect, Goya, Hain Celestial, Kraft, LiDestri, Mars Food, McCain Foods, Red Gold, Starbucks, Subway, Unilever, Uno Chicago Grill and White Rose, all of which are already committed to NSRI targets.

The latest company announcements come as The Doctors, an Emmy Award-winning syndicated series, launches an independent campaign – “Halt the Salt” – to raise awareness of the excessive sodium in our diets. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the Health Department’s Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Control program, will appear on The Doctors Wednesday morning (check local listings) to discuss the NYC-led National Salt Reduction Initiative. “High sodium diets can cause high blood pressure, which may lead to heart disease and other debilitating illnesses,” said Dr. Travis Stork, host of The Doctors and a faculty physician at Vanderbilt Medical Center. “We’re concerned about sodium sneaking into our diets, mostly from the pre-packaged foods we buy in stores and meals we consume in restaurants. We hope our Halt the Salt initiative will raise viewers’ awareness of this hidden danger. This is our call to action to all the moms out there who want to shop for better products for their families. By taking the Halt the Salt pledge, our viewers can make their voices heard, sending a strong message to food manufacturers.” The National Salt Reduction Initiative now includes 32 local and state health departments and 25 other partners. New partners since April include the Hawaii State Department of Health, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program, Kaiser Permanente, the Minnesota Department of Health, the New Jersey Department of Health & Senior Services, the New Mexico Department of Health, the Ohio Department of Health, the North Dakota Department of Health, and the Texas Medical Association. “Reducing salt intake has been a public health priority for decades,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “The national initiative that New York City spearheaded has begun the work to achieve this goal, and we’re pleased to see the partnership expand and grow. Thanks to these food manufacturers and the NSRI’s 50-plus partners, the initiative truly has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives each year that otherwise would be lost to cardiovascular disease.” Americans consume roughly twice the recommended limit of salt each day, causing widespread high blood pressure and placing millions at risk of heart attack and stroke. Only 11 percent of the sodium in our diets comes from our own saltshakers; nearly 80 percent is added to foods before they are sold. The sodium in salt is a major contributor to high blood pressure, which in turn causes heart attack and stroke, the nation’s leading causes of preventable death. The Health Department recently unveiled a new publicawareness campaign, which includes posters in the subway system and a multilingual Health Bulletin, to educate consumers about these risks, urging them to compare labels and choose foods with less sodium.

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