Anglo-Dutch food giant Unilever said Tuesday it would cut the salt in almost all its 22,000 products, claiming it was the first to set comprehensive salt reduction goals to boost public health.
"Unilever's aim is to reduce the salt content of its products by the end of 2010 to help people reach the daily recommended dietary intake of six grams (of) salt per person," the company statement said.
A further reduction would lower this to five grams by 2015 in line with World Health Organisation guidelines.
"Unilever is the first food company that sets worldwide goals for salt reduction across its entire product range," the company claimed.
Marketing vice-president Gaby Vreeken described the plan as "ambitious", but said it could and should be done to prevent cardiovascular disease and deaths attributed to high salt intake.
"The challenge lies in achieving these results without compromising on the flavour, quality and shelf life of our products," said Vreeken. The company said it would use other spices and aromatic herbs.
About 75 percent of total salt intake comes from processed foods like bread, cheese, meat, sauces and soups.
"Consumers will be more likely to adapt their taste preference to lower levels of salt if the food industry as a whole reduces salt levels," said Unilever.