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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 005-11
Thursday, March 17, 2011

MEDIA CONTACT: (212) 788-5290
Susan Craig/Zoe Tobin: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov


Health Department Announces New Company Commitments to National Salt Reduction Initiative; Sodium Study Confirms that New Yorkers Eat Too Much Salt

7 major companies join nationwide initiative to reduce sodium in their products; 79% of New Yorkers exceed the recommended daily limit for sodium

March 17, 2011 - Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant, Black Bear European Style Deli, Campbell Soup Company, Dietz & Watson, Ken’s Foods, Snyder’s-Lance, Inc., and Target Corporation are the latest major food, restaurant and retail companies to commit to meeting National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI) sodium reduction targets. These leading food businesses take this public health leadership step as preliminary findings released today from a new Health Department study confirm that the current sodium intake for adults is alarmingly high in New York City. Study results reveal that an average New Yorker consumes 3,150 mg of sodium per day – twice the recommended limit for most adults and in line with previous national estimates. The study establishes a baseline measurement of salt intake for the ongoing evaluation of the NSRI, a nationwide effort to address America’s overconsumption of salt by working with food makers and restaurants to reduce salt in the country’s food supply.

The majority of New York City adults (61%) should consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. This recommendation applies to those 51 years and older, blacks, and people with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. However, only 11% of these high risk New Yorkers are at or below the 1,500 mg limit. Others should consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Of all adult New Yorkers, only 1 in 5 consume within their recommended limit. These preliminary findings come from the first population-based study in the country to assess sodium intake by the most accurate method, through testing urine samples collected over a 24-hour period. Complete study findings will be released later this year.

Cutting salt intake lowers blood pressure, a major preventable risk factor for heart disease and stroke, which are two of the leading causes of death in the United States. Only 11% of the sodium in our diets comes from our own saltshakers or is added during home cooking; nearly 80% is added to foods before they are sold. The NSRI’s goal is to cut the salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25% over five years – an achievement that would reduce the nation’s salt intake by 20% and prevent tens of thousands of deaths each year.

The initiative has developed specific targets to guide company salt reductions across 62 categories of packaged food and 25 categories of restaurant food. New company commitments cover a range of products, including hot dogs, salad dressing, soup and crackers. These products can be high in salt, but these major national food companies are leading the way in reducing the salt in many popular items.

“High blood pressure is a predictable result of current sodium levels in the American food supply,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “Diets high in sodium, taken over lifetimes, are fueling widespread hypertension, causing tens of thousands of preventable deaths. The national initiative spearheaded by New York City has begun the work to reverse this trend, and we’re pleased to see the partnership expand and grow. The addition of these companies and partners demonstrates their dedication to creating a healthier America.”

“Population-wide sodium reduction is key to reversing pervasive high blood pressure that can result in death due to heart disease and stroke,” said Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association. “A compelling and growing body of evidence supports the need for frameworks like the NSRI. The initiative’s efforts are laudable and its potential health benefits are enormous.”

“In keeping with our efforts to make delicious, healthy products that people love, Campbell is pleased to extend our support to the National Salt Reduction Initiative,” said Denise Morrison, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Campbell Soup Company. “Campbell offers great-tasting lower sodium choices across our product portfolio, including many of our Pepperidge Farm breads, our Campbell's Healthy Request soups and SpaghettiOs pastas, so that people can reduce their sodium consumption without sacrificing taste.”

“Snyder’s – Lance, Inc. is proud to partner with the National Salt Reduction Initiative through our commitment to reduce sodium in Lance Sandwich crackers, America’s favorite brand of sandwich crackers,” said Carl Lee, President and CEO of Snyder’s – Lance, Inc. “This commitment builds on our long history of positive consumer desired nutritional enhancements and existing leadership in sodium reduction as demonstrated by Snyder's of Hanover pretzels: the leading national brand of pretzels and a better for you salted snack option. We at Snyder's – Lance, Inc. look forward to continuing to provide great tasting, premium quality snacks while working to reduce sodium across our full line of snacks.”

“Dietz & Watson has been offering lower sodium deli meat and cheese products since 1979 and is committed to providing healthier deli items through our Healthier Lifestyle line of products,” said Louis Eni, president and CEO of Dietz & Watson Premium Deli Meats and Artisan Cheeses. “We pledge to further reduce sodium in our frankfurters and cream cheese to meet NSRI standards for 2014.”

“Bertucci’s is very excited and honored to participate in the National Salt Reduction Initiative. We have already achieved the NSRI 2014 goal in most of the categories by using natural and unprocessed food in addition to sound cooking techniques. We commit to an additional 5% sodium reduction in all categories by this year, 2011,” said Stefano Cordova, Executive Chef of Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant.

The new companies announced today join Au Bon Pain, Boar’s Head, Butterball, Delhaize America, FreshDirect, Furmano’s, Goya, Hain Celestial, Heinz, Hostess Brands, Kraft, LiDestri, Mars Food, McCain Foods, Premio, Red Gold, Starbucks, Subway, Unilever, Uno Chicago Grill and White Rose, all of which are already committed to NSRI targets.

The NSRI is composed of 72 partners, including 15 cities, 29 state authorities, 19 national health organizations and 9 state and local associations. New municipal and health organization partners include the Arkansas Department of Health, Broome County Health Department (New York), Cambridge Public Health Department, Cook County Department of Public Health (Illinois), Houston Department of Health and Human Services, Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support, Mississippi State Department of Health, National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Northwest Kidney Centers, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services, Rhode Island Department of Health, Salt Lake Valley Health Department, Summit County Health Department (Utah), Utah Department of Health and the Wisconsin Heart Disease and Stroke Alliance.

The NSRI has received extensive support from philanthropists and donors, including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The baseline evaluation study of population salt intake was made possible by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the New York State Health Foundation, the National Association of County & City Health Officials and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This funding is administered by the Fund for Public Health in New York, a private non-profit organization that supports innovative initiatives of the New York City Health Department.

A detailed list of all company pledges to NSRI sodium reduction targets and a full list of NSRI partners is available through nyc.gov.

National Salt Reduction Initiative Partners (PDF)

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