DOWNERS GROVE, ILL. — Sara Lee Corp. on Dec. 16 said it will reduce salt an average of 20% over the next five years across its key categories of fresh bread, hot dogs, lunchmeat, breakfast foods and cooked sausage. The initiative will encompass the company’s top food brands such as Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm and Sara Lee, and it is expected to build on the salt reduction the company already has accomplished through the launch of a line of lower-sodium lunchmeats earlier this year and sodium-reduced options of fresh bread products.

"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 Christopher 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. We are excited to respond to consumers’ requests for lower-salt options, and plan to continue to provide great-tasting Sara Lee foods that they have come to know and love, but now with less salt."

Sara Lee said it already has removed 266,000 lbs of sodium from its products, which is the amount of sodium found in about 665,000 lbs of salt.

Earlier this week, The Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., announced plans to cut the sodium in its SpaghettiOs canned pasta by up to 35%, depending on the variety.