Processing Magazine

New York City leads the drive to cut America''s salt intake

January 12, 2010
Under the leadership of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City''s Health Department is coordinating a nationwide effort to reduce salt in restaurant and packaged foods by 25 percent over five years, reported by Reuters. The National Salt Reduction Initiative, a coalition of cities and health organizations, hopes the food industry will back its campaign to combat high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes by voluntarily reducing the sodium in the U.S. food supply. The announcement met with mixed reaction. Many food makers have already begun to cut salt content and said the reduction targets were reasonable, but some critics called it another attempt to regulate what should be a free choice. Bloomberg, who has just begun his third term as mayor, has crusaded for healthy living. The effort targets restaurants and packaged food because only 11 percent of the sodium in Americans'' diets comes from their saltshakers. Nearly 80 percent is added to foods before they are sold, the Health Department said. High blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke kill 23,000 New Yorkers and 800,000 Americans per year, costing untold billions in healthcare expenses, the Health Department said. Salt intake has been increasing steadily since the 1970s, with Americans consuming about twice the recommended limit of salt each day. Food manufacturers said the proposals are reasonable and have been a part of their strategy for some time. The city is soliciting comments from the food industry and consumer organizations until Feb. 1. To view the proposed salt reduction targets, click here.