PORTLAND, Ore. — Kraft Foods Inc. said Wednesday that it will cut the salt in its products that are sold in North America by an average of 10 percent over the next two years to appeal to health-conscious consumers.
The changes at Kraft, the largest U.S. food maker, will affect more than 1,000 products and eliminate more than 10 million pounds of salt over the two-year period, the company said.
Kraft and other food makers have cut their use of sodium in recent years. Among other cuts, the company said this latest move will cut the salt in Oscar Mayer Bologna by 17 percent, Easy Mac Cups by 20 percent and Velveeta by 10 percent.
"We are reducing sodium because it's good for consumers and, if done properly, it's good for business," Rhonda Jordan, president of health & wellness at Kraft Foods, said in a statement. "A growing number of consumers are concerned about their sodium intake, and we want to help them translate their intentions into actions."
Health experts generally agree Americans eat too much salt and the vast majority of it comes from processed food. The excess is dangerous because salt contributes to high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke, kidney disease, heart disease or heart failure.
Many health leaders have urged food makers to reformulate their products to reduce salt.
Dietary guidelines generally limit healthy adults to about a teaspoon, or 2,300 milligrams of sodium, a day. People who are most sensitive to salt – African Americans, people with high blood pressure and others – should limit their daily intake to 1500 milligrams, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Kraft, which is based in Northfield, Ill., offers more than 100 products with no sodium or what it calls low or reduced levels. But a 2.05-ounce, single-serving Easy Mac Cup, for example, has 700 milligrams of sodium – about 30 percent of the recommended average daily intake.
Kraft said it also is reformulating some items for international markets, including cheese products in the UK. But the bulk of the company's business is in North America.
Among other companies aiming to cut sodium is ConAgra Foods Inc., the maker of Chef Boyardee and Hebrew National. ConAgra announced in October that it would will cut sodium 20 percent in the next five years.
Campbell Soup Co. has cut the sodium in more than 100 of its products – including V8 juices, Prego sauces, Pepperidge Farm breads and some of its namesake soups – by 25 percent to 50 percent over the past four years. Campbell announced in December that it would cut the sodium in its SpaghettiOs canned pasta by up to 35 percent.