Sara Lee Corp., Downers Grove, Ill., said it will reduce salt by an average of 20 percent during the next five years across its key categories of fresh bread, hot dogs, lunchmeat, breakfast foods and cooked sausage. The initiative will involve the company's top food brands such as Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm and Sara Lee.

Officials say the news "builds on the successful salt reduction the company already has accomplished, which includes 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. At the same time, we are reducing the amount of certain less desirable ingredients, such as trans fats and salt," said CJ Fraleigh, executive vice president and chief executive officer, Sara Lee North American Retail and Foodservice. "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."

Officials said Sara Lee already has already has eliminated 266,000 pounds of sodium from product formulations (no time frame mentioned) and that it is taking a "step-wise approach" to salt reduction -- considering factors such as food safety, consumer acceptance and cost to consumers.