Nestle Prepared Foods Company joins crusade to cut sodium levels

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Nestle Prepared Foods Company has unveiled plans to reduce the sodium content of its products 10 per cent by 2015.

Rather than cut large amounts of salt out in one go, the company intends to change recipes gradually in order to bring down sodium levels without affecting taste.

Consumer acceptability has been one of the biggest challenges for industry when it comes to reducing sodium and until recently, many companies have been reluctant to discuss their reduction plans for fear that they could affect taste perception.

Public sodium targets

But recently there has been a flurry of companies launching high profile campaigns to reduce the sodium content of their foods. General Mills, Kraft, ConAgra and Unilever have all made public declarations about their sodium targets.

Part of the reason for this shift in strategy is the increased pressure on industry to combat excess sodium levels in the US diet.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the average intake of sodium is about 4,000mg a day, compared to a maximum recommended intake of 2,300mg.

About 75 percent of this comes from packaged foods and so companies such as Nestle Prepared Foods Company that produce ready meals and frozen foods have come in for particular pressure to reduce sodium in their products.

Progress so far

Announcing its sodium target for 2015, Nestle Prepared Foods Company was keen to emphasize that it had already made considerable progress behind the scenes to reduce sodium levels.

For example, the company said average sodium levels in its Lean Cuisine range were at or above 1,000mg when launched in 1981 but now have an average sodium content of 606mg. And giving a more recent example, the company said the sodium content of Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese has fallen from 920mg per serving in 2005 to 820mg today.

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