Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs and Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas A. Farley announced the first 16 companies to formally commit to the National Salt Reduction Initiative – a public-private partnership created to reduce Americans’ salt consumption by 20% over five years. New York City began coordinating this voluntary effort two years ago. The National Salt Reduction Initiative partnership now includes 18 national health organizations; 29 cities, states and related entities; and some of the nation’s leading food companies, including: Au Bon Pain, Boar’s Head, FreshDirect, Goya, Hain Celestial, Heinz, Kraft, LiDestri, Mars Food, McCain Foods, Red Gold, Starbucks, Subway, Unilever, Uno Chicago Grill and White Rose.

According to Dr. Robert J. Gould, Partnership’s CEO, “I commend Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC Department of Health for their leadership on this vital public health issue. Over the past 30-40 years the consumption of sodium in the diet has increased to levels that have alarmed clinicians and the public health community. 77% of the sodium in our diets come from processed and restaurant foods. The commitment and national leadership of Mars Foods and other companies to promote public health by reducing the sodium levels of their products is a positive example that other food manufacturers should quickly follow.”

Americans consume roughly twice the recommended limit of salt each day. 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.

Last week, the Institute of Medicine released a report stressing the urgent need to reduce sodium intake in the United States. The report recommends that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration use its regulatory authority to reduce salt in the nation’s food supply, but it also notes that public-private partnerships can “achieve meaningful reductions in sodium intake prior to the implementation of mandatory standards.”

On April 22, Darwin Labarthe, MD, MPH, PhD, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, told a briefing of the Congressional Prevention Caucus that “the current level of sodium added to the food supply—by food manufacturers, foodservice operators, and restaurants—is simply too high to be “safe” for consumers. Reducing the sodium content of processed foods is a necessary and urgent public health strategy for reducing blood pressure and preventing hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. The time is now.”

William Tatum
Director of Membership
Partnership for Prevention


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