08/21/2012 03:39 pm ET Updated Aug 21, 2012

Boston Market Removes Salt Shakers From Restaurant Tables, Pledges To Cut Sodium Levels In Food

You can order chicken, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese from Boston Market, but here's one thing you won't be able to get at your table at the restaurant chain: salt shakers.

There will be no more salt shakers at tables at the chain's 476 locations, USA Today first reported. Boston Market said in a statement that it will have salt shakers available at a condiment station, but that this change will prompt customers to taste their food first before automatically putting more salt on.

The restaurant is also going down the path of other restaurants in lowering sodium levels. Signature items -- mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and rotisserie chicken -- will get a 20 percent decrease in sodium, while other menu items will get a 15 percent decrease in sodium by 2014, Boston Market said in the statement.

"By removing salt shakers from Boston Market tables, we hope to raise awareness of salt intake, without completely eliminating the option, to those who dine in our restaurants," Boston Market CEO George Michel said in the statement. "Today, we are publicly committing to further reduce sodium from menu items while still delivering the great taste for which Boston Market is known."

Center for Science in the Public Interest director Michael Jacobson told USA Today that this is the first time he's heard of a restaurant making a point to remove salt shakers from its tables.

Last year, a number of restaurants made headlines for decreasing the sodium in their menu items. Particularly, Carl's Jr.'s hamburger buns, El Torito's sauces and Taco Bell's entire menu have been subject to a decrease in sodium, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"Everybody in the industry is looking at sodium reduction," CKE restaurants marketing chief Brad Haley told the LA Times. CKE restaurants owns Carl's Jr. and Hardee's. "Because we think this is the next legislative requirement that is going to come down."

The body needs some salt to function, but it's easy to get too much, especially considering processed and pre-prepared foods are loaded with the stuff, the Mayo Clinic reported. Consuming too much salt is known to raise blood pressure, which can lead to other problems like heart failure, stroke and heart disease.

The most sodium we should be eating a day is 2,300 milligrams, according to the Mayo Clinic. The government's recommended level is even lower for people who are over the age of 50, have high blood pressure, are African American or have chronic kidney disease or diabetes -- for these groups of people, it's 1,500 milligrams per day.

Recently, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed there are 10 kinds of foods that make up 44 percent of all the sodium we eat each day, with 65 percent of that sodium coming from store-bought foods and 25 percent coming from restaurant foods.

That report showed that the average person's daily diet includes 3,300 milligrams of sodium, which doesn't even include added salt that you might sprinkle on top of a dish at the table.

For the 10 biggest sources of sodium for Americans age 2 and up, according to that CDC report, click through the slideshow:

Biggest Salt Offenders