While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is mulling possible strategies for limiting sodium content in manufactured foods—in large part in light of a recent report from the Institute of Medicine highlighting the health problems associated with the nation’s salt habit and the pressing need to cut back—the New York City-led National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI) seems to be gaining ground in its efforts to get food manufacturers to voluntarily curb sodium content. Today the New York City health department announced that 16 companies—including Subway, Boar’s Head, Au Bon Pain, Heinz and others—have committed to voluntarily reducing sodium in range of products.
Of 62 possible packaged food categories—ranging from canned vegetables to frozen pizza—the 16 companies currently signed on with the initiative have agreed to reduce sodium in products belonging to 45 different packaged food categories. Of 25 restaurant food categories, the companies have signed up to cut down on salt in 15. The NRSI aims to trim sodium content in packaged and restaurant foods by 25% by 2014. (Read a breakdown of company commitments here (PDF)).
Americans currently consume roughly twice the recommended amount of sodium each day, contributing to health problems and and as many as 150,000 unnecessary deaths each year. Researchers estimate that excess sodium consumption racks up between $10 to $24 billion in health care costs each year.