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Cities and states propose voluntary framework for cutting salt in packaged and restaurant foods
Date:1/11/2010

The National Salt Reduction Initiative, a New York City-led partnership of cities, states and national health organizations, today unveiled its proposed targets to guide a voluntary reduction of salt levels 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 in ways that they cannot control on their own. Only 11% of the sodium in Americans' diets comes from their own saltshakers; nearly 80% is added to foods before they are sold. Through a year of technical consultation with food industry leaders, the National Salt Reduction Initiative has developed specific targets to help companies reduce the salt levels in 61 categories of packaged food and 25 classes of restaurant food. Some popular products already meet these targets a clear indication that food companies can substantially lower sodium levels while still offering foods that consumers enjoy.

The Health Department will solicit additional comments on the targets this month, and the initiative will adopt final targets this spring.

The goal of the initiative 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 many thousands of premature deaths. The sodium in salt is a major contributor to high blood pressure, which in turn causes heart attack and stroke, the nation's leading causes of preventable death. These conditions cause 23,000 deaths in New York City alone each year more than 800,000 nationwide and cost Americans billions in healthcare expenses.

"Consumers can always add salt to food, but they can't take it out," said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. "At current levels, the salt in our diets poses health risks for people with normal blood pressure, and it's even riskier for the 1.5 million New Yorkers with
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Contact: Jessica Scaperotti
pressoffice@health.nyc.gov
212-788-5290
New York City Health Department
Source:Eurekalert

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