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Salt Gets the Shake at Boston Market

Hot & Cool Food Trends

The salt shakers are getting cleared from the tables at Boston Market.

Famous for its rotisserie chicken and homestyle (and often salty) side dishes, the casual dining chain has announced plans to remove salt shakers from the guest tables at its 476 restaurants. Pepper shakers will remain on the tables.

There will be signs at the tables where the salt shakers used to be, explaining its sodium reduction effort, and noting that salt shakers are still available at beverage stations.

Boston Market also announced that it will reduce sodium levels in three of its signature menu items—rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, and macaroni & cheese. The chain pledges to reduce sodium by 20% in those items over the next six months, as first reported by USA Today.

Rotisserie chicken (quarter white) will go from 710 mg of sodium to 568; macaroni & cheese will have 880 mg—down from 1,100; and mashed potatoes will go from 820 mg to 607mg.

Boston Market CEO George Michel says the company will reduce sodium levels by 15% across the menu by the end of 2014. "It's time for us to focus on making our food better," he says. The chain is already testing lower-sodium salads and sandwiches, he says. A new sandwich bread being tested has 50% less sodium.

The sodium reduction effort mirrors similar recent moves by other major players, including Burger King and Disney theme parks.

On the other hand, Boston Market wants its customers to know, it’s not about to become a health food specialist. "We don't want it to be misconstrued that Boston Market is becoming a 'healthy' fast-casual chain," says chief brand officer Sara Bittorf. "We're never going to have the healthiest mac and cheese on the block."

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