I commend Boston Market for taking a voluntary step to improve the health of their customers — although I do believe that it is primarily a marketing stunt.
This action only affects salt shakers on the table that people very often use out of habit before even tasting their food. If someone tastes the food and feels they still want more salt Boston Market is still making salt shakers available, they say they’re just trying to get people to think about what is an unhealthy habit for many. It's a good idea but don't be confused with that meaning their food is all low in sodium.
Hypertension and heart disease are silent killers and excess sodium is a contributing factor to both. In many people excess sodium can also contribute to other health problems.
Getting people to think about unhealthy habits is a good thing.
Given what we all pay for health insurance and in taxes for Medicare and Medicaid and to reimburse hospitals for the uninsured who end up in the Emergency rooms with strokes and hypertensive attacks, this method of drawing attention to the excess salt in the American diet is a no-lose for all of us.
I would however not jump to the conclusion that Boston Market is a low sodium restaurant. The marketing professional in me believes that this is exactly what they want us to think — however it is far from the truth.
The maximum recommended amount of sodium for adults and children over four years of age is 2,400 mg per day based on a 2000 calorie diet. Boston Market’s website lists a regular size serving of meatloaf as containing 1090 mg of sodium, the included piece of corn bread is an additional 330 mg and a side of mashed potatoes with beef gravy is 890 on top of that. Round the meal off with a vegetable such as garlicky lemon spinach for another 380 mg and you’ve passed your limit for the day in one meal.
And please don’t think I’m picking on meatloaf. The first item listed on their online nutrition menu is the half rotisserie chicken with 1380 mg of sodium which is nearly a third more than the meatloaf.
In fairness, if you try, you can find some reasonable lower sodium items on their menu. They in fact do offer some better options than other establishments.
I welcome any attempt to educate the public and to change unhealthy behaviors but we all need to pay attention to what we are actually eating; not what the restaurants and food manufacturers want us to THINK we’re eating.
From a marketing perspective this is a brilliant move.
Regardless of their true intentions, which only they know, they have garnered millions of dollars worth of free press for something that may even save them money.
Kudos to the marketing team.