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BOX 6-2

Examples of Recent Efforts by the Processed Food Industry to Reduce Sodium Intake

Campbell’s expanded the number of foods marketed as lower in sodium from 24 in 2005 to 100 in 2009. Reductions included lowering sodium by 32 percent in its original tomato soup and offering 11 varieties of Pepperidge Farm reduced- or low-sodium breads. Efforts have also included reducing sodium levels in 45 soups (Khoo, 2009) and 100 percent of the V8 beverage portfolioa to those required for a healthy claim (≤ 480 mg) and reducing the sodium content of existing Healthy Request soup lines from 480 to 410 mg per serving.b

ConAgra reduced the annual sodium usage in its products by 2.8 million pounds over a period of several years, ending in 2007.c More recently, ConAgra announced plans to cut its overall sodium use by 20 percent by 2015, by reducing sodium in more than 160 products.d

General Mills instituted a sodium reduction plan across all of its business categories and has silently reduced the sodium levels in Progresso, Hamburger Helper, and Cheerios products (Wiemer, 2009), and has six reduced-sodium soups with 450–480 mg sodium per serving.e In its 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Report, General Mills pledged to further reduce sodium in more than 600 of its products by 20 percent, on average, by 2015. The sodium reduction initiative represents about 40 percent of its products and covers 10 product categories.f

Kraft announced in March 2010 that it plans to reduce sodium by an average of 10 percent across its North American portfolio over the next 2 years, including reductions up to 20 percent in some products. Some sodium reductions have already occurred; since 2008 two Kraft Light salad dressings were reduced by more than 30 percent and all Oscar Mayer white turkey deli meat products by at least 15 percent. The company also has more than 100 products that are low, reduced, or no sodium.g

Nestlé set a worldwide policy to make reductions in all products with sodium contents greater than 100 mg/100 calories. Under this initiative, plans have been made to reduce sodium by 25 percent in each of these products over a 5-year period. Thus far, more than 15 million pounds of salt have been removed from products worldwide (Fern, 2009).

technologies invented or discovered thus far are not as useful as artificial sweeteners that can be used in a wide variety of applications to completely replace sugar. The lack of similar discoveries for sodium may have slowed the progress in developing more reduced-sodium products, although sodium reductions are possible without the use of salt replacements.

Food manufacturers and retailers have also directed their efforts toward providing health information about sodium to consumers. This is usually intended to lead consumers to purchase the manufacturer’s lower-sodium products, but such efforts can also be a useful means of distributing health

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