Nestlé, the largest food and beverage company in the world, announced on Monday that it would speed up efforts to reduce salt content in all of its food products — which include popular microwavable brands such as Stouffer’s — in order to meet a World Health Organization (WHO) goal of limiting all people’s sodium intake to five grams of salt per day by 2025. The company has now set an ambitious goal of reducing its products’ salt content by 10 percent in the next three years alone.
“We have made great strides in reducing the salt content of our food products in recent years and we want to build on that progress,” said Henri-Pierre Lenoble, Nutrition, Health and, Wellness manager at Nestlé Food, in a statement. “Our goal is to offer consumers products that enable them to make practical, healthy nutritional choices, every day.”
Studies have shown that the food industry’s overuse of salt in pre-processed and microwaveable foods is a major source of Americans’ excess sodium intake and contributes to as many as 100,000 American deaths every year. Salt over-consumption has been cited by the medical community as a risk factor for high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.
Public health advocates have argued that reducing the salt content in processed foods is the most effective way of limiting sodium intake since it must be done before ever reaching the consumer. Currently, even people who don’t want to eat food laden with salt have little recourse since many foods come pre-loaded with the substance.
Some food companies have heeded public health advocates’ advice and voluntarily reduced their products’ sodium levels. In February, 21 companies including Butterball, Heinz, and Kraft Foods cut salt content in their products by as much as 30 percent as part of a public health initiative led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I). According to Reuters, Nestlé had already reduced the total amount of salt in its soups, noodles, pizzas, and other products by 14,043 tons between 2005 and 2012.