Helping our chefs and guests shake their salty habits
“Americans have gotten addicted to salt. We have to help our guests adjust their palates.”Fedele Bauccio, CEO
Salt. We need it to live — indeed, most chefs would say we can’t live without it. But because we care about our guests’ health, we’ve been willing to take on the challenge of reducing our use of it.
We’ve always been committed to cooking from scratch, including stocks and soups. Company guidelines require that these be unsalted, in contrast to the high sodium levels found in canned stock. Our chefs have always taken a light hand with added salt in preparation and focused on ingredients such as fresh herbs and spices to add flavor.
In 2013, with this strongly salt-conscious culinary foundation, we felt we could go further. We partnered with the consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which has made sodium reduction a key focus, to launch a three-pronged sodium-reduction campaign.
In the weeks leading up to the third annual Food Day — a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food that culminates on October 24 — we focused on culinary training, purchasing, and education to decrease sodium usage. Our nutrition team talked to chefs about taste thresholds and ways to cut salt use in the kitchen, while the purchasing team identified lower-sodium substitutes for several commonly used ingredients. CSPI offered an award for those Bon Appétit accounts that took a jointly created Sodium Reduction Pledge, making a commitment to purchase certain products and execute specific education programs. More than 50 café teams took the pledge.