Food manufacturers

Study examines salt reduction strategies for food manufacturers

Study examines salt reduction strategies for food manufacturers

A new scientific study has examined a range of sodium reduction strategies that can be adopted by food producers to reduce the amount of salt in food.

In general, humans enjoy the taste of sodium, so much so that most people easily (and accidentally) eat more than the recommended amount each day. Eating too much sodium may be linked to high blood pressure, hypertension, and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, and it only takes three slices of bread to meet the recommended daily amount.

Aubrey Dunteman and Soo-Yeun Lee, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, conducted a comprehensive review of sodium reduction strategies in food production. The scoping review examined the results of hundreds of scientific studies, literature reviews, book chapters and patents to analyze different methods of reducing salt in foods. He focused on studies that included sensory data with human subjects, as palatability is critical for consumer acceptance.

“In this review, we looked at different food systems. How you would reduce salt in a solid system, such as topical application on snacks, such as salted peanuts or salted chips, would be very different from application embedded in semi-solid foods like cheese or bread. . And in a liquid system like soup, where it’s completely dissolved, it would be really different in how we could reduce the salt while still delivering the taste it gives,” Lee said.

“We hope this work will provide insight into the wide variety of salt reduction technologies that exist. This can help food companies be better informed to use different strategies than they have done before,” she added.

Five main strategies have been identified in this process: salt reduction, salt substitutes, flavor modification, physical modification and functional modification.

Some of them are quite obvious, like replacing salt with different ingredients or simply reducing the amount used, but others are less straightforward for manufacturers.

It is not possible for manufacturers to simply remove salt from certain products because it often serves as a functional ingredient, not just a flavor enhancer. For example, it is difficult to make bread or cold cuts without using sodium, where it is needed for leavening or preservation.

Many studies have used salt substitutes such as potassium chloride, calcium chloride, or other acidic chlorides or salts. However, these substitutes tend to taste bitter, so they are often used in combination with flavor modifications, such as umami substances or bitterness blockers.

“Another method is physical modification. For example, you can encapsulate salt crystals, which changes the way salt is dissolved in the mouth. This can alter the salty perception allowing a reduction in the amount of sodium needed to create the salty taste. You can also create an uneven distribution of salt in a product which can further help to enhance the salty perception of the food product through taste contrast,” Dunteman explained.

“Finally, there is the functional modification. For example, you could move away from a sodium-based preservative in deli meats, perhaps using celery powder preservative instead of sodium nitrate.

Functional modification is less represented in the scoping review because this type of sodium reduction research typically does not incorporate a sensory component as a primary assessment method, Dunteman noted.

the results were published in the Comprehensive exams in food science and food safety log.

Image credit: © Hofacker