Campbell Soup's salt decision unsavory

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Soup is prerpared at a Campbell plant in Maxton, N.C. (JIM R. BOUNDS / Bloomberg)

It’s a shame that Campbell Soup Co. couldn’t find a better recipe to serve up higher profits than to put more salt into its soups to ratchet up their taste.

In a move to boost sales, the Camden-based company announced plans this week to return to saltier days.

Campbell’s hopes to whet the finicky appetite of consumers, who have found its healthier soup varieties that contain less sodium less appetizing. But most Americans already consume more than the maximum 2,300 milligrams ofsodium recommended daily for the average person.

Spokesman Anthony Sanzio said Friday that the company plans to raise the salt level from 480 mg to 650 mg in some varieties. It will still offer lower-sodium versions. “Ultimately, taste is king,” he said.

The announcement was greeted warmly by business analysts, who predict more salt will again have consumers saying “M’m M’m good.” But it’s disappointing that a company with a demonstrated record of social responsibility is retreating on efforts to cut sodium and offer healthier choices.

Only a few months ago, Campbell’s launched a $10 million plan to combat childhood obesity and hunger in Camden. That marked a good blend of corporate citizenship and smart public policy.

Campbell’s obviously is in a tough spot. Experts mistakenly believed that soup sales would increase in a tough economy. Instead, the opposite has been the case. The company recently eliminated 130 positions at its headquarters in Camden and 770 more jobs worldwide. Executives clearly need to sprinkle new life into the 142-year-old company.

But their decision ignores growing pressure on food companies to voluntarily reduce the amount of salt in their products.

Most salt in food comes not from the shaker, but from processed products. There has been some conflicting research, but most studies have linked increased sodium levels to high blood pressure — a risk factor for stroke, heart attack, and other ailments.

Light on the salt, please.

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