Kraft Foods, Heinz and Unilever were this week named among the signatories to the National Salt Reduction Initiative, a programme launched earlier this year to cut the level of salt in US packaged and restaurant foods by 25% over five years. Beyond this, we take a look at recent announcements by US firms on their efforts to cut the levels of sodium in foods.

This week, Mars Inc said it will cut the amount of salt in its Uncle Ben's flavoured rice products in the US as part of the food group's commitment to a New York City-led programme to reduce sodium in foods. The company's Mars Food US arm announced plans to cut the salt in the Uncle Ben's products by 25% in five years.

US cereal giant General Mills has set itself a target to reduce the sodium content in 600 of its products by around 20%. The target, set out in the firm’s 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Report, is to be achieved by 2015. The firm said it will accelerate its sodium reduction strategy to target an average 20% sodium reduction in 600 SKUs (stock-keeping units) by 2015.

In March, Kraft Foods said it plans to reduce sodium by an average of 10% across its North American portfolio over the next two years. The firm said the reduction will be “good for business” and “good for consumers” and is expected to amount to the elimination of around 10m lbs of salt.

PepsiCo has also set out plans to reduce the amount of salt, saturated fat and added sugar in its products. The US food giant, which owns brands including Lay's crisps and Quaker cereals, said last month that it would cut the amount of salt in its "key global food brands in key markets" by 25% by 2015.

In February, Campbell said it planned to "enhance" more than 60% of its condensed line with product improvements, further cuts in sodium, more contemporary packaging and new marketing aimed at the simple meals category. Yesterday, the firm defended its decision not to join the New York City-led programme to cut salt in food and insisted getting consumers to accept the lower levels of sodium takes time.

US food group Heinz announced in February that it will cut the level of salt in its core ketchup line by 15% from the summer. Heinz sells a range of ketchup lines, including no salt-added and reduced-sugar versions. The company announced yesterday (4 February) that it had introduced Simply Heinz Tomato Ketchup, a product made with sugar instead of high fructose corn sweetener.