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16 food companies pledge to cut salt

CAMPAIGNING AGAINST SALT New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says sodium is a cause of high blood pressure. CAMPAIGNING AGAINST SALT
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says sodium is a cause of high blood pressure.
Associated Press / April 27, 2010

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NEW YORK — Sixteen food companies plan to cut the amount of salt in bacon, flavored rice, and dozens of other products as part of a national effort to reduce Americans’ sodium consumption by 20 percent.

“Sodium is a major cause of high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to heart attack and stroke,’’ said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said yesterday that companies including H.J. Heinz Co., Kraft Foods Inc., and Starbucks will commit to the National Salt Reduction Initiative, a voluntary effort initiated by New York City.

Mars Foods said it would cut the salt in its Uncle Ben’s rices by 25 percent over five years.

Lanette Kovachi, corporate dietitian for Subway, said the sandwich chain has cut sodium by 30 percent in its European outlets and is working on reducing salt in its US restaurants — “in all of our menu items.’’

Heinz had announced it would reduce sodium by 15 percent in all the ketchup it sells in the United States, starting May 1. Heinz said the move is part of an ongoing commitment to sodium reduction. Heinz has cut sodium in Bagel Bites snacks 20 percent, for example.

Lori Roman, president of the Salt Institute, a trade group, said the initiative isn’t “based on sound science.’’