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Food companies meet mayor's challenge to reduce sodium in products

Bloomberg announces results of national effort to reduce

Bloomberg announces results of national effort to reduce sodium in pre-packaged foods (Mayor's Office) (Credit: Bloomberg announces results of national effort to reduce sodium in pre-packaged foods/Mayor's Office)

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

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's declared another victory in his health crusade Monday with some help from the word's biggest food companies who lowered the sodium content in their products

Kraft, Goya, Subway, Starbucks and 17 other companies voluntarily 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%; Subway was able to reduce sodium in its sandwiches by 32%; and Uniliver was able to reduce sodium in its Ragu pasta sauce by 20% per serving.

"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% by 2014 and the mayor said his coalition is well on its way to meet that goal.

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 people's diets and worked to make their products healthier without sacrificing taste.

"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% of Americans consume too much sodium and that leads to higher cases of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

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 weren't opposed to cutting back on salt.

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

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

Farley and Bloomberg reiterated that they have no plans to issue a ban on salts in 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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