NYC Wants You To Eat Less Salt

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants you to be healthy. First it was calorie counts on menu boards — now he’s going after salt in packaged and restaurant foods. It seems less likely this initiative will lead to an actual law, but you never know, so here we go…

Meet the National Salt Reduction Initiative.

The New York City Health Department is coordinating a nationwide effort to prevent heart attacks and strokes by reducing the amount of salt in packaged and restaurant foods. Americans consume roughly twice the recommended limit of salt each day – causing widespread high blood pressure and placing millions at risk of heart attack and stroke. This is not a matter of choice. Only 11% of the sodium in our diets comes from our own saltshakers; nearly 80% is added to foods before they are sold. The National Salt Reduction Initiative is a coalition of cities, states and health organizations working to help food manufacturers and restaurants voluntarily reduce the amount of salt in their products. The goal is to reduce Americans’ salt intake by 20% over five years. This will save tens of thousands of lives each year and billions of dollars in health care costs.

In case you’re wondering why we’re writing about some silly thing that will only affect NYC, the plan specifically goes after nationally consumed packaged food — so if it works, you’ll be eating less salt even if you don’t live in NYC.

From the NYT:

The city’s salt campaign is in some ways more ambitious and less certain of success than the ones it waged against smoking and obesity. For one thing, the changes it prescribes require cooperation on a national scale, city officials said, because major food companies cannot be expected to alter their products for just the New York market.

And removing salt from many products can be complicated. Salt plays many roles in food, enhancing flavor, preventing spoilage and improving shelf life. It helps bread to rise and brown.

Subway has already committed to following the guidelines at its 23,000 stores, says the Times.

Citing Hazard, New York Says Hold the Salt [NYT]