BY ANTHONY O’REILLY
Some of the city’s restaurants are saying so long to high sodium.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced the results of a national initiative to reduce the amount of sodium in pre-packaged and restaurant foods.
Twenty-one food companies and restaurants – including Subway, Goya, Heinz, Au Bon Pan, Kraft and Starbucks – met or exceeded the standards set by the Mayor’s Office to reduce the amount of sodium in their food products.
The companies and restaurants participated in a voluntary partnership with the Mayor’s Office known as the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI). The program was started in 2008 and was the first nationwide program of its kind, according to the mayor.
“Prior to our National Salt Reduction Initiative, there was no comprehensive approach to lowering sodium in foods, and many questioned whether companies would step up to meet a voluntary pledge,” Bloomberg said. “These companies have demonstrated their commitment to removing excess sodium from their products and to working with public health authorities toward a shared goal – helping their customers lead longer, healthier lives.”
According to the mayor’s office, close to 90 percent of Americans consume too much sodium, resulting in high blood pressure, heart disease and increasing the possibility of having a stroke.
“Nearly 80 percent [of sodium intake] comes from packaged or restaurant foods, not table salt or home cooking, making it challenging for any individual to monitor sodium intake, and choose to decrease sodium intake,” the mayor’s office said.
A study cited by the mayor’s office said a reduction of 1,200 milligrams of sodium a day can save the city $24 billion in health care costs every year and prevent up to 92,000 deaths.
“I congratulate these companies for taking steps to make it easier for their customers to eat products with healthier levels of sodium,” Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said. “We set a high bar in New York City and I’m pleased to recognize these food company leaders that met or exceeded the NSRI targets.”
The NSRI has set new sodium target levels for 2014 and is still looking for companies to join the initiative. For more information, visit nyc.gov.