Subway lowers salt in its sandwiches

By Charles Riley, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Subway sandwiches just got a little less saltier.

The restaurant chain announced Monday it has reduced sodium levels in its sandwiches by 15% across the board, while its Fresh Fit sandwich line gets an even steeper 28% reduction.

The sodium reduction is the result of changes to the bread used, while modifications to meat allow for additional savings.

The lower sodium levels are the result of a research and development process that has been underway since 2007, and Subway said it will result in 450 fewer tons of sodium in the American diet.

"Sodium" is, of course, a naughty word. Especially in the United States, where Americans eat too much of it, and high-blood pressure is a widespread health problem.

"We are trying to be a little more responsible with the sodium levels," said Lanette Kovachi, the chain's corporate dietician.

Shanon Trueman, a food science analyst at research and advisory firm Nerac, said it makes sense that Subway lead the way on sodium reduction -- especially given the emphasis they place on health in marketing campaigns.

It is a smart financial move as well, Trueman said.

"People are looking favorably on a food producer that is looking to help people be healthy," she said.

Kovachi said that Subway -- the world's largest sandwich purveyor with 34,443 stores -- has already lowered sodium levels in several overseas markets, including New Zealand and Australia. The changes were well received by customers -- and there is no noticeable difference in taste, she said.

Some of the chain's most popular sandwiches are in for a big reduction. For example, the 6-inch ham sandwich will drop from 1260 mg of sodium in 2009 to 830 mg today.

For comparison, a McDonald's Big Mac checks in at 1040 mg of sodium.

There is a slight increase in cost associated with changing the formula, but that cost won't be passed on to the consumer, Subway said. To top of page

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