Heinz and Starbucks are among the 16 companies who have pledged to voluntarily slash the amount of sodium in their products, as part of Mayor Bloomberg's National Salt Reduction Initiative. Starbucks will cut salt in breakfast sandwiches, Heinz will reduce sodium levels in its ketchup and marinades, and Boar's Head will cut down on salt in a wide variety of cured meats, cold cuts and sausages. The initiative's goal is to reduce salt in restaurant and packaged foods by 25 percent over five years, with the cooperation of national and international companies.

According to the mayor's office, Americans "consume roughly twice the recommended limit of salt each day, causing widespread high blood pressure and placing millions at risk of heart attack and stroke. Only 11 percent of the sodium in our diets comes from our own saltshakers; nearly 80 percent is added to foods before they are sold. The sodium in salt is a major contributor to high blood pressure, which in turn causes heart attack and stroke, the nation's leading causes of preventable death. These conditions cause 23,000 deaths in New York City alone each year—more than 800,000 nationwide—and cost Americans billions in healthcare expenses."

Other participants so far include Au Bon Pain, Boar's Head, FreshDirect, Goya, Hain Celestial, Heinz, Kraft, LiDestri, Mars Food, McCain Foods, Red Gold, Starbucks, Subway, Unilever, Uno Chicago Grill and White Rose, Reuters reports. The recommended daily limit for sodium intake is 1,500 mg for most adults, but some food products pack that much sodium in one serving. What makes the salt overload so deceptive is that much of the salt in the average diet comes from breads, muffins and other foods that don't taste salty.