Industry News | April 28, 2011 | QSR Exclusive Brief

More Sodium Reductions to Come at Subway?

The corporate dietitian for Subway says the sodium reductions across the sandwich chain’s menu took years to accomplish, but that the company isn’t done lowering sodium levels just yet.

Subway announced last week that it had reduced sodium by 28 percent in its Fresh Fit sandwich choices, and by 15 percent across the board. Lanette Kovachi, who helped spearhead the sodium reductions for Subway, says more sodium reductions should be announced in the next year.

“It’s extremely challenging, it’s been a work in progress,” Kovachi says. “We’ve worked closely with our vendors and our scientists to come up with a product that doesn’t taste significantly different by using flavoring or just takes the threshold down enough so it’s not noticeable.”

Kovachi says the Subway team worked hard to create lower-sodium ingredients that didn’t just taste the same as they used to, but also maintained the same food quality, safety, and texture.

“We targeted ingredients that we thought would have the biggest impact on the overall sandwich, so we reduced sodium in our breads, our Italian and our wheat breads, which in turn basically reduces sodium for every sandwich that we offer,” Kovachi says.

Reductions were also made to the sodium in Subway’s proteins, Kovachi says, including in ham, chicken, steak, and roast beef.

Though Subway has long enjoyed a health halo in the quick-service industry, Kovachi says there is an expectation across its consumer base to “be the nutritional leader” and for the chain to put its “best foot forward.”

“The sodium was something we were already hearing from some of our customers, so we’ve done that,” she says. “We’re just going to continue to follow what the trends are and emerging science to improve the nutritional quality of the food and maintain our nutrition leadership role in the [quick-serve] industry.”

By Sam Oches