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General Mills makes strides in reducing sodium

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General Mills makes strides in reducing sodium

MINNEAPOLIS – General Mills reports that it’s making headway in its effort sodium by 20% across 10 key U.S. retail product categories by the end of this year.

The food company said that it has met or exceeded its goal in seven of 10 categories, with reductions across the 10 categories ranging from 18% to 35%. The initiative involves sodium reduction in more than 350 of products, or over a third of the company’s current U.S. retail sales volume.

The categories include cereals, dry dinners, frozen pizza, Mexican dinners, refrigerated dough products, savory snacks, canned vegetables, side dishes, soups and variety baking mixes.

Categories reaching the sodium reduction goal include savory snacks (35% cut in sodium), frozen pizza (29%), canned vegetables (28%), variety baking mixes (24%), dinner mixes (21%), refrigerated dough (21%) and side dishes (20%).

General Mills noted that significant progress was also made in the three categories in which it hasn’t met the 20% target, including a 19% sodium reductions in ready-to-serve soup and Mexican products as well as an 18% reduction in cereal.

“Sodium reduction has been effort key focus of our continuing efforts to improve the health profile of our products,” stated Maha Tahiri, General Mills chief health and wellness officer and vice president of the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. “Reducing sodium is not a simple task, and we knew the 20% target would be a challenge. I am proud to have exceeded our very aggressive goals in seven of our key 10 categories and to have come so very close in others.”

General Mills said it has taken a gradual approach to sodium reduction by using incremental steps to introduce the changes, giving people time to adapt their palates to the lower sodium levels. “Taste is the main driver of food purchases, and we believe making repeated changes to accomplish a series of gradual reductions is the best way to continue to deliver the great taste consumers expect, while also supporting our commitment to the goal of reducing sodium intake in the American diet,” explained Tahiri.

Product developers have been able to reduce sodium in some recipes by adding additional spices to ensure the flavor of the food remains vibrant, and in others by adjusting the placement of the sodium, such as by moving it to the food’s surface so it’s more readily tasted, according to General Mills.

Other nutritional improvement efforts by General Mills have included enhancing foods and nutrients with more whole grain, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and reducing nutrients of concern such as calories, sodium, sugar and fat. In 2010, the company accelerated its sodium reduction efforts by publicly stating its pledge to reduce sodium by 20% in 10 key product categories.

General Mills’ roster of brands includes Cheerios, Fiber One, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Wanchai Ferry and Yoki, among others.


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