DOWNERS GROVE, ILL. — Over the next five years, Sara Lee Corp. plans to reduce salt on average of 20% across its key categories of lunchmeat, hot dogs, cooked sausage, fresh bread and breakfast foods. Sara Lee’s top food brands, including Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm and Sara Lee, will be impacted.

This effort builds on the successful salt reduction Sara Lee has already accomplished, which includes the launch of a line of lower-sodium lunchmeats earlier this year and sodium-reduced options of fresh bread products, the company relayed.

"This is in line with our broader wellness and nutrition strategy, which focuses on increasing the presence of positives, such as whole grains and lean protein," said C.J. Fraleigh, executive vice-president and chief executive officer, Sara Lee North American Retail and Foodservice. "At the same time, we are reducing the amount of certain less desirable ingredients, such as trans fats and salt."

The average American consumes more than one-and-a-half times the maximum recommendation of 2,300 milligrams per day of sodium, a standard set by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, according to recent national data from U.S.D.A.

Sara Lee will initially focus on those categories with the greatest salt-reduction opportunities — fresh breads, hot dogs, lunchmeat, breakfast foods and cooked sausage. These efforts are in addition to the 266,000 lbs. of sodium the company has already removed from products, which is the amount of sodium found in about 665,000 lbs. of salt.