Taking steps to slash sodium

by Jeff Gelski
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Natural sea salt
Formulators may consider sea salt and single-grain ingredients.

Upcoming government guidelines and a recent consumer survey show sodium reduction remains a topic of concern. Ways to achieve such reduction may come through various methods, including sea salt and single-grain ingredients.

The scientific report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released on Feb. 19 said sodium is a nutrient of public health concern for overconsumption across the entire U.S. population. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 should be released in the coming weeks. The International Food Information Council Foundation’s Food and Health Survey 2015, meanwhile, found 53% of Americans were trying to limit sodium/salt or avoid it entirely.

Several suppliers promote sea salt as a way to reduce sodium although the American Heart Association urges caution. Table salt and most sea salts contain about 40% sodium by weight, but kosher salt and some sea salts may have larger crystal sizes and thus less sodium by volume, such as in tablespoons and teaspoons, according to the association.

Since sea salt is obtained directly through the evaporation of seawater, it usually is not processed, or undergoes minimal processing, and thus retains trace levels of minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium and other nutrients, according to the association.

Natural salts like sea salt may have better flavor than refined or low sodium options, said Andrea Sames, director of marketing for SaltWorks, Inc., Woodinville, Wash.

“Many manufacturers have found that with the fuller flavor of all-natural sea salts, they are able to actually use less in their products and achieve the same, or better, salt flavor, without resorting to artificial or chemically altered low sodium ingredients,” she said.

For a sodium reduction tip, SaltWorks advises food manufacturers to use sea salt as a topping or a finish on food products. This provides more flavor impact since salt is the first flavor on the palate.

Furmano’s, Northumberland, Pa., said sea salt has been shown to reduce the sodium content of finished food products by 50% or more. For example, 28 oz of diced tomatoes may contain 270 mg of sodium per serving when made with table salt, which compares with 125 mg when made with lower sodium sea salt, according to Furmano’s.

Advanced Food Systems, Inc., Somerset, N.J., offers a Sea Salt Replacer T#2 that has been shown to reduce sodium levels by 50% when used in a ratio of 1:1 for any added salt in a formula. ICL Performance Products, St. Louis, offers Salona, a low sodium sea salt that has been shown to replace up to 50% of sodium chloride in food and beverage products.

Saltwell, another sea salt ingredient, is dried by the sun, which means the minerals are baked together in such a fashion that Saltwell crystals form homogenous grains, according to Salinity, based in Halmstad, Sweden. Thanks to the single single-grain formation, Saltwell has been shown to perform and taste like ordinary salt even though it is 65% sodium chloride, 30% potassium chloride and 5% trace minerals, said Thomas Hultman, sales manager for Saltwell in the United States.

Salinity this year launched a version of Saltwell for organic use. Organic-certified rice hull concentrate is used as an anti-caking agent.

Nu-Tek Salt is another single-grain ingredient. Nu-Tek Food Science, Omaha, uses naturally sourced potassium salt (potassium chloride) from North America and the company’s patented single-crystal technology to create a single grain. Cain Food Industries, Inc., Dallas, offers Nu-Tek Salt.

“NuTek Salt has been successfully used in products with 9 of the top 20 global C.P.G. food companies, and there are products pending market launch with seven more of the top 20 C.P.G.s,” said Tom McCurry, managing director and chief operating officer of Cain Food Industries. “Additionally NuTek Food Science is working with three of the top five global Q.S.R. chains with similar results.”

NuTek Salt has been shown to work in such categories as bakery, meat/proteins, dairy/cheese, dressings and sauces, and soups, Mr. McCurry said.

Flavor enhancers are another way to reduce sodium. For example, Kikkoman Sales USA, Inc., San Francisco, offers a natural flavor enhancer that has been shown to reduce sodium by 30% to 50%. It is formulated to have an umami-boosting flavor, aroma and color, appropriate for savory applications of all kinds.

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