Boastful Boar’s Head Easily Delivers 50% of Daily Sodium at Lunch

Boar's Head Deception. September 2010.

Boar’s Head celebrates that they’re the first deli company to meet the New York City Department of Health’s National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI) recommended 2012 target levels for sodium in deli cold cuts and cheeses. The ad above appeared on a MetroNorth train from New York to New Haven in early September, 2010.  It makes a bold claim. So bold, that I’d expect to see a typical deli sandwich have less than 50% of my sodium for the day.  Sadly that’s not true. Boar’s Head is benefiting from not actually selling sandwiches.

Delis use 6 oz,  10 oz or sometimes even 1 pound (16 oz) of of meat per sandwich. So, when I let the deli make my sandwich, I’m getting about 50%-100% of my days sodium from just the meat. Let alone the bread, which can easily add another 10% of your daily recommended sodium.

“Maple Glazed Honey Turkey” is of my go-to deli meats . Yet, I don’t really know how that meat gets to my plate, as it doesn’t look like the turkey my mom makes on Thanksgiving.  Something happens along the way, which adds lots of salt.

Boar's Head Nutrition info

The nutrition info above is for 2 oz servings.  Yet, my sandwiches I make for myself are typically a  quarter-pound, or 4 ounces. Turns out that my conservative quarter-pound of turkey meat is giving me 36% of my salt for the day–before counting the bun.

Boars’ Head met the guidelines put out by NYC for deli meats ( NYC recommends 810mg of salt per 100 g of meat ). Yet, my complete deli lunch on a turkey sandwich can still contain 100% of my salt for the day. See how:

  • Boar’s Head Honey Maple Turkey (1/2 lb, 72% of daily sodium)
  • Arnold Kaiser Roll (1 roll, 1 serving, 11% of daily sodium)
  • Small bag of Lay’s Potato Chips (1 oz bag, 1 serving, 7% of daily sodium)
  • Can of Coke ( 12 oz can, 1 serving, 2% of daily sodium)

Unless Boar’s Head  encourages 2 oz or 4 oz servings of their meat, they should stop being so boastful.

This is a great opportunity for delis to make more money while making customers healthy. It’s simple: delis should advertise & price by portion size, using current prices for the small recommended portion size. Consider a deli menu offering 3 meat sizes, with prices relative to your current prices:

  • Healthy-size (4oz): less $0.50
  • Full-size (8oz):  plus $1.00
  • Super-size (12oz):  plus $3.00

What do you think?  Should Boar’s Head be less boastful?  Should delis standardize and charge for the amount of meat in each sandwich?

[UPDATE on 9/10:   3 oz of fresh turkey has 55g to 80g of sodium-- that's 90% less than Boar's Head's Low Sodium offerings! Put another way, Boar's Head's Low Sodium turkey has 500-1000% more sodium! So, my preferred outcome is that delis in NYC carry freshly roasted turkey that is free of the unnecessary sodium. ]

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