The NSRI has developed targets to guide company reductions in the sodium levels in 25 categories of restaurant food, ranging from biscuits to burritos. The initiative includes voluntary 2012 and 2014 targets for average sodium levels in each food category as well as a maximum sodium level for all items served in restaurants. The categories and targets grew out of a yearlong series of technical meetings with food industry leaders. Some popular products already meet these targets—a clear indication that they are achievable.
When a restaurant signs on to the initiative, it pledges that its overall sales in a given category—cheeseburgers, for example—will meet the relevant target for sodium content, even if some individual products don't. For example, a company selling three equally popular types of cheeseburgers could keep one of them higher in sodium as long as its overall cheeseburger sales meet the target. A restaurant that commits to the maximum, commits to keeping sodium levels per serving in all items below that threshold. If restaurants work in tandem to reduce average sodium content, consumers will enjoy the health benefits without a noticeable difference in taste.
Company Commitments to the NSRI Restaurant Food Targets
The NSRI applauds the restaurant and foodservice companies that have committed to reduce sodium in their menu items to meet the NSRI restaurant food targets and encourages all companies to follow their example. The following companies have agreed to work toward restaurant food targets:
NSRI Commitment Process
All restaurants were encouraged to commit to the restaurant targets and per-serving maximum for 2014. Participating companies agreed to “work toward meeting the NSRI targets” in specific food categories, “through a transparent, public process.” In addition:
The NSRI understands that restaurants without a standardized menu may have difficulty committing to the restaurant targets. However, all restaurants can reduce sodium in the food they serve. One important step is to purchase lower sodium ingredients that meet the NSRI Packaged Food Targets (PDF). Restaurants can also ask their food distributors for lower sodium products.
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