As part of the initiative Mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday, 16 US food companies pledged to reduce the amount of salt in their products. The 25% reduction will occur gradually over five years to give consumers’ palates time to adjust. As salt is 40 percent sodium, this will significantly lower these foods’ sodium content.
Personally, I’m a fan of Bloomberg’s National Salt Reduction Initiative. I can respect arguments that consumers should be trusted to make their own good choices, but that kind of laissez-faire attitude doesn’t seem to be working. Plus, I feel that it is the responsibility of food companies to make it easier for people to make informed, health-conscious decisions.
Some of the participating companies include Goya, Mars Foods, Boar’s Head, Kraft, Heinz, and White Rose, among others. A few restaurant chains are even getting in on it, such as Au Bon Pain, Starbucks, Subway and UNO Chicago Grille.
While these companies are probably joining the campaign in an effort to improve their images and have something to publicize, if health is something of a hot commodity right now, I really shouldn’t roll my eyes too much. It could be worse—they could be adding bacon to everything in an effort to appeal to hipster foodies. Can you imagine bacon-wrapped Oreos?
Researchers believe such an initiative could reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes for hundreds of thousands of people if only 10 percent of their salt intake was cut out. It’s also estimated that those cuts would save the US $32 billion in health costs.
On another note, did you know that Eggo Waffles and cottage cheese pack in over 400 mg of sodium per serving? Check out this list of some other foods with surprisingly high levels. As a dietetic student and avid label-reader, a lot of this didn’t shock me, but I did raise an eyebrow over the whole wheat bread.
For more information and full list of participating companies, visit the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene online.