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NewsBites March 2010 Issue

Big Apple Targets Salt

New York City officials are leading the charge in a nationwide effort to reduce the amounts of salt in packaged and restaurant foods. The National Salt Reduction Initiative aims to cut such “hidden” salt—a major source of dietary sodium—by 25% over the next five years. New York is the first to enact the initiative’s targets, with final approval expected this spring. Thomas Farley, MD, New York City Health Commissioner, said, “Consumers can always add salt to food, but they can’t take it out. 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 high blood pressure. If we can reduce the sodium levels in packaged and restaurant foods, we will give consumers more choice about the amount of salt they eat, and reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke in the process.” The initiative has developed targets to help companies reduce salt levels in 61 categories of packaged foods plus 25 types of restaurant dishes; each target includes two- and four-year goals. Nationwide, 26 cities, including Los Angeles and Seattle, and 17 health organizations have signed on to the initiative. (For more on salt and your health, see the report on page 1 of this issue.)

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