NY Mayor to lead fresh initiative to cut salt

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 27th April 2010

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday announced a major joint initiative between the city and a group of US food companies to cut salt in produced and restaurant foods back to 1970s levels.

The campaign has already signed up Kraft Foods, Heinz, Subway, Unilever, McCain Foods and Starbucks, as well as a variety of other chain restaurants and manufacturers.

Bloomberg himself admitted to loving salt, in moderation. “I put salt on my popcorn — as a matter of fact, popcorn without salt is not popcorn. I put it on my bagels. I even sprinkle it on my saltines, my notes say, but that is not true. That’s the one thing comes with plenty of salt. And while this isn’t the healthiest habit in the world, it’s not as bad as it sounds. And that’s because most of the real salt in our diets, some 80% of it in fact, doesn’t come from the salt we add to our meals. It actually comes from restaurant and packaged foods, which often use sodium as a preservative or for leavening purposes.”

Different companies will be taking different voluntary measures to reduce salt, with a goal of 25% reduction over 5 years. Heinz will reduce sodium in tomato sauce and marinades, while Starbucks will cut salt in breakfast sandwiches.

Bloomberg is famous for his sweeping preventative health measures, including banning trans fats from New York foods, and banning smoking in bars, however the latest move has met with mixed reactions from consumers and companies. Some consumers felt the move was intrusive, and indicative of a ‘nanny state’ where individuals weren’t trusted to make their own decisions.

Campbell’s Soup also indicated they would not be joining the campaign, despite having reduced sodium in a number of their products.

“One of the things we want to bring across to New York City is that sodium reduction does not always follow a prescribed time or prescribed progress,” Chor-San Khoo, vice president for global nutrition and health at the Campbell Soup Company, told the New York Times. “There’s no one size fits all.”