City's Anti-Salt Crusade Continues

The city added more corporate allies Tuesday in its year-old campaign to curb sodium in processed foods. Hostess, Butterball, Snyder’s of Hanover and three other companies pledged to participate in the New York-led “National Salt Reduction Initiative.”

Dr. Sonia Angell, from the City Health Department, said lowering sodium can have a large impact, even in items without much salt -- like Hostess Wonder Bread.

"Bread is one of the largest contributors to salt in our diet, because we eat so much of it," Angell said. "So, the commitment of a company like Hostess to reduce their sodium has great potential, because the cumulative effect of eating all that bread all day long can make a big difference."

The Initiative is to trying to get large food manufacturers and restaurant chains to voluntarily reduce sodium in their foods by 25 percent over five years. Organizers of the campaign say doing that would reduce the entire American population’s salt intake by 20 percent.

The underlying goal is to reduce high blood pressure and heart disease.

But not everyone agrees with the campaign. Some researchers believe only a relatively small group of people would see major benefits by reducing salt this way, and that for others it’s unnecessary and even potentially harmful.

The campaign is based on a similar one in Great Britain that organizers credit with reducing daily salt consumption by 10 percent over eight years. But those results have been criticized by some American researchers, who say the British ignored many studies in order to get the conclusion they wanted.

Along with New York City, the Initiative includes dozens of local and state health departments and various health advocacies.