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The low-sodium movement just picked up a lot more steam, as Subway -- the world’s largest restaurant chain – unveiled big plans this week for a significant reduction in sodium at its U.S. stores. The sodium content in Subway’s “Fresh Fit” sandwich line in the U.S. will be cut 28 percent vs. 2009, when Subway first began to cut salt. Sodium in its overall sandwich line will be cut by 15 percent, compared with the same period.
With the creation of its Fresh Fit menu in 2007, the brand has aimed to help patrons easily choose a nutritious meal with low-fat and low saturated fat alternatives with personalized sandwich combinations, fresh vegetables, nutritious sides of apples, yogurt, or Baked Lay’s potato crisps. “In a continual effort to exceed [customers’] expectations, we felt it was important to take this leadership role in terms of sodium reduction,” notes Tony Pace, Subway franchisee advertising’s CMO.
The announced reductions underscore the sandwich chain’s commitment to support the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI), says Pace, adding that the brand has already met the 2012 sodium benchmarks, is on track to meet the 2014 benchmarks, and is already working on future sodium reductions as well as identifying opportunities to further enhance its nutritious offerings.
“Sodium plays an important role in proper nutrition; but since most adults consume well over the recommended limit of salt each day, people of all ages and health levels can benefit reducing their sodium,” according to Lanette Kovachi, Subway’s corporate dietician. “Reducing the sodium intake can play an important role in reducing risk factors that can lead to heart disease.”
Subway’s move will likely encourage other major players in the fast-food industry to follow suit – and will also further impact deli counters and foodservice outlets across the country.
Indeed, while the low sodium movement continues to pick up steam alongside consumers’ ongoing quest for convenient meal options, more and more fresh meat suppliers are also heeding the call for reduced-sodium formulations. In one of the latest examples, Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based Seaboard Foods recently reduced sodium in its PrairieFresh Prime brand fresh pork products. The sodium content for a 4-ounce serving of unseasoned PrairieFresh Prime pork loin was lowered to 280 milligrams (mg) -- a 26 percent sodium reduction.
Seaboard joins Smithfield, Butterball and other meat companies that have made similar moves in the past year alongside other CPG leaders that have also jumped aboard the lower-sodium train, including Pepsico, ConAgra, Del Monte, General Mills, and Campbell Soup.
As suppliers and restaurant chains continue to face increased pressure from lawmakers, advocacy groups and consumers to cut back on excess sodium, we can expect to see a wave of similar moves continue. In the interim, the Food and Drug Administration is also expected to announce plan to push for lower sodium in foods later this year.