Similar announcements have flooded in from major food and beverage companies over the past year or so as industry’s salt use has been scrutinized in light of health concerns, such as high blood pressure, being linked to excessive sodium consumption. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 77 percent of the average American’s sodium intake comes from processed foods – and some of those, like bread or cookies for instance, may not taste salty.
Announcing the company’s sodium reduction pledge on Wednesday, Del Monte’s chairman and CEO of Del Monte Foods Richard Wolford said: “With today's announcement to reduce sodium by 20 percent across the vegetable, tomato and broth products in our branded consumer portfolio by 2015, we will lower salt in American diets, thereby helping consumers lead healthier and more active lifestyles. We look forward to making consumer-meaningful sodium reductions and to driving change that supports public health."
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans – those currently in use as the 2010 guidelines are finalized – recommend a daily intake of less than 2,300mg of sodium. But specific groups, comprising nearly 70 percent of the US population, should not surpass 1,500mg of sodium a day according to the guidelines, including those with high blood pressure, blacks, and anyone middle-aged or older.
Other companies to have made new sodium reduction pledges include General Mills, Kraft, ConAgra and Unilever.
More recently, The Campbell Soup Company said last month that it would start distribution of a further 21 varieties of its condensed soups reformulated with reduced sodium content.
Although there is widespread agreement from public health agencies – including the World Health Organization and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) – that excessive consumption of sodium contributes to hypertension, there are some scientists who say there is no need to limit consumption unless you suffer from hypertension already. It is estimated that 32 percent of Americans have high blood pressure, and according to the IOM, another third of the population is at risk of high blood pressure.