Sara Lee Corp. announced it is committed to reducing salt an average of 20 percent over the next five years across its key categories of fresh bread, hot dogs, lunchmeat, breakfast foods and cooked sausage. This initiative will encompass Sara Lee's top food brands, including Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm and Sara Lee. The effort builds on the successful salt reduction the company has already accomplished, which includes the launch of a line of lower-sodium lunchmeats earlier this year and sodium-reduced options of fresh bread products.
In recent national data (USDA, 2008), the average American consumes more than one-and-a-half times the maximum recommendation of 2300 milligrams per day of sodium, a standard set by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. To create the biggest impact on Americans' eating habits, Sara Lee will initially focus on those categories with the greatest salt reduction opportunities - fresh breads, hot dogs, lunchmeat, breakfast foods and cooked sausage. These efforts are in addition to the 266,000 pounds of sodium the company has already removed from products, which is the amount of sodium found in about 665,000 pounds of salt. Sara Lee is taking a step-wise approach to salt reduction, considering factors such as food safety, consumer acceptance and cost to consumers. The company will reassess goals periodically.