At Bloomberg's urging, 21 major food companies reduce salt

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's declared another New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's declared another victory in his health crusade Monday with some help from the word's biggest food companies, which lowered the sodium content in their products. (Nov. 22, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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Instead of passing the salt, 21 food companies have passed on the salt.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared another victory in his health crusade Monday with some help from the word's biggest food companies, which lowered the sodium content in their products.

Kraft, Goya, Subway, Starbucks and 17 other companies voluntarily have met the sodium reduction target set by the National Salt Reduction Initiative, a partnership of 91 city health departments that Bloomberg spearheaded in 2008.

Kraft dropped sodium in its cheese by 18 percent; Subway was able to reduce sodium in its sandwiches by 32 percent; and Unilever reduced sodium in RagĂș pasta sauce by 20 percent.

"It really shows the difference we can make when public and private sectors come together to tackle the biggest issues in our country," Bloomberg said.

The proposal aims to reduce sodium content in foods by 25 percent by 2014; the mayor said his coalition is well on its way.

Russell Moroz, Kraft's vice president of research and development and quality, said his company agreed with the mayor's assessment on the excess sodium in diets and worked to make the company's products healthier without sacrificing taste.

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"We focused our efforts on where we could make the biggest improvements," he said.

The mayor said the companies' efforts couldn't have come at a better time. Studies find that 90 percent of Americans consume too much sodium and that leads to higher cases of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said three of the 24 companies targeted by the initiative didn't meet the 2012 sodium reduction goal, one of them being the now-defunct Hostess Company. However, he said they were not opposed to cutting back on salt.

"All manufacturers realized they had to reduce sodium levels, but it's not easy," Farley said.

The salt reduction initiative is one of Bloomberg's many efforts to help improve New Yorkers' health. During his 12 years in office, he's gotten a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants passed, mandated that eateries post calorie counts and is set to ban large sugary drinks in restaurants, delis and other venues.

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Bloomberg and Farley reiterated that they have no plans to issue a ban on saltin the city's restaurants or eateries because the volunteer efforts by the food companies have been successful.

"Our policies have been about education," the mayor said.

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