Heinz, Kraft, other will take part in voluntary initiative

NEW YORK (AP) -- Sixteen food companies have agreed to reduce salt in some products as part of a national effort to cut American's sodium consumption by 20 percent, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced April 26.

The companies, including H.J. Heinz Co., Kraft Foods Inc. and Starbucks, will commit to the voluntary National Salt Reduction Initiative.

Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen said the company will reduce sodium by 15 percent in all the ketchup it sells in the U.S. starting May 1.

"Heinz will continue its efforts to substantially reduce sodium in our products and to meet targets where feasible while offering products that meet consumer expectations for quality and taste, as well as high food safety standards," he said in an e-mail.

The salt reduction in ketchup is part of the company's ongoing commitment to sodium reduction, Mullen said. Heinz has already cut sodium in Bagel Bites frozen pizza snacks by more than 20 percent, for example.

Most health organizations recommend a range of 1,500 to 2,400 milligrams of salt a day for healthy adults. Consuming too much salt can lead to health problems including high blood pressure and stroke.

"Reducing salt intake has been a public health priority for decades," New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said. "We can now say we are taking the first steps to achieve it."

The salt reduction initiative has set a goal of cutting the salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25 percent over five years.

That would lead to a reduction in the nation's salt intake by 20 percent.

The program is modeled on a similar initiative in the United Kingdom, where food makers have reduced salt levels by 40 percent or more in some products.

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