Courtesy of the New York City Health Department
The New York City Health Department earned praise from health advocates across America this afternoon by announcing that an impressive new roster of companies has signed on to its National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI), launched in October of 2009. The initiative's broader goal is to reduce consumption by 25 percent over five years.
"Salt is a problem for everybody across every stage of life," Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the Health Department's Cardiovascular Disease Program, told the Atlantic Food Channel. She pointed out that cardiovascular disease is the number-one killer in America, and that salt makes an enormous contribution. The problem, she said, is "immediate."
Six major companies are uniting with the NSRI, including Hostess (committing to reduce salt in its bread products), the supermarket group Delhaize (pledging to cut sodium in 22 categories of packaged foods such as frozen pizza, cereal, and butter), and the seasonally appropriate Butterball, a manufacturer of many meat products but best known for turkey. These companies have set varying goals, with staggered timelines focusing on 2012 and 2014 as benchmarks. The NSRI is already working with food companies such as Subway, Heinz, Starbucks, Kraft, and Mars. The six new partners bring the number of participating food companies to 22. The NSRI conducted more than 100 meetings with industry, Angell told us, and worked with companies to figure out what would work best for them. The planned reductions focus on average reduction across product lines, with some remaining relatively salty as many are reformulated—usually, Angell believes, without any noticeable change for people eating the food.