Global foods giantUnilever PLC , London, said it is the first food processor to set worldwide goals for salt reduction across its entire food portfolio, which covers more than 22,000 items. The move will affect such Unilever products as Bertolli frozen meals and Shedd's Country Crock refrigerated side dishes.

Officials say product developers will take immediate steps with recipe reformulation, salt replacers and increased use of other flavorful ingredients such as herbs and spices. The goal is to help consumers reach a dietary intake of 6g of salt per day by the end of 2010, with a further reduction to 5g of salt per day by the end of 2015.

"This is a unique approach as we are dealing with our portfolio in a holistic way in terms of daily dietary contribution, rather than only looking at the input of individual products, or simply launching a lower salt range," said Gert Meijer, Unilever vice president of Nutrition and Health.

Meijer added, "We measure the contribution of our products to daily salt intake in the context of their role within a typical menu -- looking at how often consumers usually eat products containing salt and how much each product contributes to their daily diet."