Meeting FDA Salt Goals a Matter of Changing Tastes: Nestle CEO

Reducing salt in the American diet, a goal of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is a matter of changing tastes — literally.

That’s the message Paul Grimwood, chairman and CEO of Nestle USA, is bringing to Washington as he tries to convince other companies to coordinate a sodium reduction in food products also desired by the government.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg earlier this month said the agency is prepping voluntary guidelines asking food companies to cut salt use.

For any effort to be successful, it’s going to require the entire food industry to adjust consumer tastes for sodium, which has become over-consumed in the American diet, Grimwood said in an interview at Bloomberg Government today.

“If I move my sodium content, my salt content, down the product, but actually the out of home restaurant industry doesn’t do it,” Nestle, the maker of Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Lean Cuisine meals, loses market share while consumers opt for higher-salt options that better match what they’re used to eating, Grimwood said.

The company is in the midst of an effort to reduce levels in products companywide by 10 percent by 2015. Nestle USA is the U.S. division of the world’s biggest food company.

“We have to make these movements together over a period of time in order to get the consumer to move with us,” he said. “You have to design a glide path and take the American taste profile on a journey.”



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