Au Bon Pain soups, Boar’s Head sausages and Starbucks breakfast sandwiches will see their salt levels trimmed, companies promised yesterday as part of a voluntary national campaign spearheaded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
So far, 16 companies — including Heinz, Goya and Subway — have signed onto the National Salt Reduction Initiative’s goal to reduce salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25 percent over five years. It would, the campaign claims, reduce Americans’ salt intake by 20 percent.
“We have been able to accomplish something many said was impossible — setting concrete, achievable goals for salt reduction,” said Bloomberg, who has aggressively promoted healthy habits by banning smoking from bars and trans fats from restaurants and requiring chains to post calorie counts.
Though he admitted to sprinkling salt on popcorn, Bloomberg said only 11 percent of sodium in our diets comes from salt shakers. The bulk — 80 percent — is added to foods before they’re sold, which can be deadly. Health officials believe sodium in salt is a major contributor to high blood pressure, which leads to heart attack and stroke — conditions that cause 23,000 deaths in New York a year.
Though some of the foods will still have high amounts of salt after the reductions, Dr. Howard Weintraub, of NYU’s Langone Medical Center, believes a gradual reduction can help “acclimatize” palates so people “aren’t moaning about the food tasting like birdseed or cardboard.”
“Studies show that just reducing salt by half a teaspoon a day can have the same effect as taking [blood pressure] medication,” he said.