NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised 21 food companies, restaurant chains and retailers that he said have met one or more of the city’s voluntary guidelines to reduce the sodium content in pre-packaged foods. The guidelines were established in 2008 under the auspices of the National Salt Reduction Initiative, a national public, private partnership that established a goal of reducing sodium in foods by 20 percent within five years.

Mayor Bloomberg made the announcement at city hall where he was joined by Russ Moroz, vice-president of research, development and quality for the Kraft Foods Group; Douglas Balentine, director of nutrition and health for Unilever; Vincent Unanue, Goya Foods category manager; Charles Bell, Consumers Union programs director; Laura Wilson, director of scientific and regulatory affairs and nutrition for Mondel─ôz International; Kevin Kane, public relations manager for the Subway restaurant chain; John Leeman, chief marketing officer for Fresh Direct; and Jocelyn Paal, marketing manager for LiDestri Foods/Francesco Rinaldi.

“Prior to our National Salt Reduction Initiative, there was no comprehensive approach to lowering sodium in foods, and many questioned whether companies would step up to meet a voluntary pledge,” Bloomberg said. “These companies have demonstrated their commitment to removing excess sodium from their products and to working with public health authorities toward a shared goal — helping their customers lead longer, healthier lives.”

Other food companies that met the initiative’s goals included Butterball, Furmano Foods, H.J. Heinz Co., Ken’s Foods, Mars Foods, McCain Foods, Red Gold, Snyder’s-Lance, White Rose. Restaurant chains that met the goals include Au Bon Pain, Starbucks and Uno’s Chicago Grill. Delhaize America and Target Corp. joined Fresh Direct as companies that qualified in the retailer category.