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Salt Subtly Trimmed From Many Foods Amid Campaign

Boston-based cafe chain Au Bon Pain lowered salt in sandwiches and breads by getting suppliers to use fresh vegetables, whole grains and herbs, CEO Sue Morelli said in a release.

Kraft Foods Inc. squeezed salt out of products ranging from steak sauce to bacon partly by substituting potassium chloride, research Vice President Russ Moroz said. It's also salty-tasting, but potassium lowers blood pressure, and most Americans don't get enough of it, Farley said.

The switch works up to a point â¿¿ generally, about 10 to 15 percent of the sodium content â¿¿ before potassium chloride causes a bitter or metallic taste, Moroz said. Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft can use other flavors to mask that, but maintaining the taste is "really the challenge in continuing to reduce sodium," he said.

"If you don't make foods that taste good, people don't buy them, and, in the end, we haven't really done anything to impact the diet in the country," Moroz said.

Bloomberg has seized on improving New Yorkers' eating habits as a public health priority, leading charges that have banned trans fats from restaurant meals, forced chain eateries to post calorie counts on menus and limited the size of some sugary drinks.

He and city officials say they're making pioneering, reasonable efforts to save lives and cut health care costs. Some food industry interests and consumers have said New York is turning into a nutrition nanny.

The salt effort has been less controversial, although the Salt Institute, a trade association, calls it misguided. There has been some scientific debate in recent years over how dangerous dietary salt is.

"If (Bloomberg's) goal is to improve health, we recommend that he seek a second opinion based on the available peer-reviewed scientific evidence," institute President Lori Roman said Monday.

Some companies, meanwhile, have embarked on their own salt-reduction plans.

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