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Joint Effort To Cut Salt Intake by 20 Percent by 2014

Posted May 25 2010 9:05am
Salt is a mineral consists mainly of sodium chloride. It is essential for human body as it helps maintain the body’s fluid balance. However, too much of it inside the body can never be good as it could cause high blood pressure that would in turn lead to heart disease and stroke.

Americans consume about twice the recommended intake of salt (1,500 mg for most adults and 2,300 mg for others) each day. Studies show that only 11 percent of the salt (sodium) intake in the daily diets comes from the saltshakers while nearly 80 percent of salt is added to foods before they are sold. In fact, much of the salt in Americans’ diets comes from breads, muffins and other foods that do not taste salty at all.

Every year, the number of deaths of heart attack and stroke as a result of high salt intake are roughly 23,000 in the New York City and more than 800,000 nationwide. This also costs American billions in healthcare expenses.

2 years ago, the National Salt Reduction Initiative was created with the aim of reducing the salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25 percent by 2014. This also means that the nation's salt intake can be reduced by 20 percent. This voluntary effort was coordinated by New York City.

Reducing sodium intake to the recommended levels could prevent between 44,000 and 92,000 deaths from heart attack and stroke, and save between US$10 and $24 billion in health care every year in the United States.

The program is actually modeled on a similar program in the United Kingdom, where food manufacturers have to reduce salt levels by at least 40 percent in some products. Other countries like Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Ireland, and New Zealand have also launched similar national initiatives to help cut the salt content in food.

On April 26, 2010, the first 16 companies announced their formal commitments to the National Salt Reduction Initiative, which is a public-private partnership that also includes 18 national health organizations, 29 cities, states and related entities.

The 16 companies are Au Bon Pain, Boar's Head, FreshDirect, Goya, Hain Celestial, Heinz, Kraft, LiDestri, Mars Food, McCain Foods, Red Gold, Starbucks, Subway, Unilever, Uno Chicago Grill and White Rose.

Mars Foods would lower the salt in its Uncle Ben's flavored rice products by 25 percent over 5 years. For Subway, their sandwich chain has already cut sodium by 30 percent in its European outlets and is working on reducing salt in its US restaurants. Heinz has already cut sodium in Bagel Bites frozen pizza snacks by more than 20 percent and would reduce sodium by 15 percent in all the ketchup it sells in the United States starting May 1.
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