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Spare Us the Salt! Oregonians Paying a Hefty Price for Hidden Salt

Consumers' Health and Budgets Negatively Impacted by High Sodium Foods,

Deceptive Labeling

KELSO, Wash., Nov. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Salt. It's been a hot topic shaking up nutritionists and medical professionals for years, and now it's making waves at the government level: U.S. consumers are ingesting too much salt, between 4,000 and 6,000 milligrams of sodium daily on average(1) (or up to 15 pounds per year), substantially more than the USDA recommendation of 2,300 milligrams or less for healthy adults (1,200 to 1,500 for children). Consumers are paying a steep price for the added salt both at the checkout stand and with their health. Even fresh, raw products like chicken may have added sodium and still be labeled "natural," a practice that local poultry producer Foster Farms says is deceptive and costly on many fronts. In fact, Portland consumers are paying approximately $4.2 million per year for salt water -- at chicken prices.

Foster Farms is committed to keeping its fresh and natural chicken exactly that: fresh and natural with nothing added or injected. The company encourages consumers to be aware when grocery shopping because salt can lurk where you least expect it -- even in fresh chicken. That extra salt can add up. In the case of "enhanced" chicken, which is often labeled "natural," consumers may be unknowingly paying up to $1.50 a pound -- at chicken prices -- for salt water. In the greater Portland area that represents approximately $350,000 per month ($80,000 per week and $11,500 per day) spent on salt water by consumers. Recent Senate action calling for an end to deceptive labeling is a critical step towards protecting consumers against high sodium in "enhanced" poultry and meat products.

"At a time when a premium is placed on value, that few seconds it takes to read the label for sodium content can keep consumers from paying for something they're not getting -- salt water, instead of chicken," said Ira Brill, vice president of marketing for Foster Farms.

Too much salt also takes its toll on our health. New studies show a correlation between sodium intake and weight gain, hypertension and heart disease, all conditions on the rise in the U.S. In Oregon alone, more than 1 in 4 adults has high blood pressure and 62 percent of Oregonians are either overweight or obese.

Most sodium ingested does not come from the shaker, but is added by manufacturers to processed and "enhanced" foods. The end result: long-term health problems that will affect future generations and health care budgets at all levels of governance.

"Research shows that a high-sodium diet can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure," notes Foster Farms nutritionist Nancy Bennett MS, RD, CDE. "Excessive sodium also has short-term effects such as water retention which can contribute to bloating, headaches, muscle cramps, and weight gain."

So why are U.S. consumers still upping their intake? "Here in the U.S., salt is in virtually everything we eat, even if we forgo the salt shaker," says Bennett. This hidden sodium only perpetuates our taste for salt. "Just because you are not adding salt to your meal, does not guarantee that there isn't already an unhealthy amount of sodium present. All the while, your body is becoming used to the taste of salt-laden foods."

Foster Farms encourages consumers to take action to protect their health and their bottom line by shopping smart and reading labels. Nutritionists with the company have provided the following tips for uncovering hidden sodium in the grocery store and for helping shake that salty habit (see sidebar).

For more information, visit

About Foster Farms

Founded by Max and Verda Foster in 1939, Foster Farms continues today as a family-owned and operated company. Foster Farms ready-to-cook, fresh chicken is all natural with no preservatives or sodium-based additives. For more than 70 years, families in the Western United States have trusted Foster Farms for the highest quality, locally raised, fresh chicken.

(1) American Heart Association



To help consumers avoid suspect salt-laden foods while shopping, Foster Farms expert nutritionist sleuths Nancy Bennett MS, RD, CDE and Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD took a trip the supermarket to uncover hidden sources of salt by aisle. Here is just a taste of what they found:

Surprising Sources of Salt

-- Products marked "natural" -- "Enhanced" fresh chicken (that has been injected with saltwater) and sold as "natural" can contain more sodium per ounce than fast food French fries -- one "enhanced" chicken breast could contain more total sodium than a large order of fries! Compare labels to assure you are paying for fresh chicken and not added salt!

-- Beware of breakfast culprits -- A plain bagel has 600-700 milligrams of sodium -- almost one-third the RDA of sodium. Pancake mix has nearly 25% of the RDA of sodium in one 1/2 c serving and even some breakfast cereals add up.

-- Dessert -- One serving of chocolate pudding has more than 20% of the RDA of sodium for adults: as much as a dill pickle!

-- Milk -- While milk has approximately 150 mg of salt, malted milk made with products like Ovaltine has nearly 300 mg per serving, one quarter of the RDA of sodium for children.

-- Use your noodle -- Many fresh pastas, such as pre-made ravioli and tortellini, may have up to 500 milligrams sodium per serving -- and that's before adding sauce and cheese.

Tips for Shaking the Salt Habit:

-- Eat fresh as much as possible, especially when it comes to vegetables. Avoid dried and processed meats.

-- Read the label -- Be sure to check the label. To assure that fresh proteins have not been 'enhanced' with unnecessary, salt-containing water or seaweed extracts, look for a sodium content of 70 mg or less per serving.

-- Know your numbers -- Aim for a general guideline of 500 mg of total sodium per meal and 200 mg per snack. Foods with 140 mg or less per serving are considered low sodium.

-- Don't supersize -- Beware of misleading portion sizes that may hurt efforts to count for calories, fat and sodium; be realistic about what you or your family members will consider a "serving" and calculate accordingly. When shopping, bring a calculator if need be.

-- Watch your sweet tooth -- Sweets such as puddings, candy bars, soda, graham crackers and even ice cream can pack a major sodium punch!

-- Skip fast food -- Just one fast food meal could have an entire day's worth of sodium.

-- Toss the shaker -- Use salt alternatives like herbs when seasoning foods. Forgo adding salt to water when cooking pasta.

-- Re-train your palate - The more salt you eat, the more you crave. Try cutting down on sodium intake for a 2 - 4 week period and you'll teach your palate to enjoy less salt while reaping the health benefits.

SOURCE Foster Farms
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