Sizing up sea salt

by Jeff Gelski
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The evolution of sodium reduction in processed foods and beverages apparently is set to continue in 2012, as might interest in sea salt. Food and beverage companies wanting to combine the two trends in product development may want to take a cautious approach. Not all sea salts are the same, and many may have as much sodium chloride as table salt.

ICL Performance Products LP, St. Louis, said it has an exception in its Salona ingredient. A natural mineral derived from the Dead Sea, Salona has levels ranging from 31% to 35% magnesium chloride, 21% to 26% potassium chloride and not more than 7% sodium chloride, said Nadeen Myers, food phosphate specialist for ICL Performance Products LP.

“Most sea salts are mainly sodium chloride with only minor or trace levels of other elements,” she said. “Salona low sodium sea salt is much lower in sodium and much higher in magnesium and potassium than most other sea salts.”

She said Salona may be used in many food applications as a replacement for up to 50% sodium chloride and as a full replacement for potassium chloride. ICL Performance Products launched Salona in 2011. The product is available in three granulations: fine, medium and coarse.

According to the Dallas-based American Heart Assoc-iation, kosher salt and most sea salts are chemically the same as table salt (40% sodium), and they count the same toward total sodium consumption. The A.H.A. said manufacturers are using sea salt in potato chips and other snacks because it’s “all-natural” and not processed like table salt and because some health-conscious consumers choose sea salt since it contains minerals like magnesium.

“Sea salt is obtained directly through the evaporation of seawater,” the association said. “It is usually not processed, or undergoes minimal pro-cessing, and therefore retains trace levels of minerals like magnesium, potassium, cal-cium and other nutrients.

“Table salt, on the other hand, is mined from salt deposits and then processed to give it a fine texture so it’s easier to mix and use in recipes. Processing strips table salt of any minerals it may have contained, and additives are also usually incorporated to prevent clumping or caking.”

Wendy’s International, Inc., Dublin, Ohio, in 2010 took the natural approach when it introduced natural-cut french fries with sea salt. Sea Salt brand potato chips from Kettle Foods, Salem, Ore., are a third lower in sodium than leading brands, according to the company. Kettle Foods said the chips contain “a kiss of sea salt.”

Consumers may associate sea salt with reduced sodium. The A.H.A. in a survey last year asked 1,000 American adults to assess their awareness and beliefs about how sea salt effects heart health. Sixty-one per cent incorrectly agreed that sea salt is a low sodium alternative to table salt, according to the A.H.A.

In research released Nov. 17 from the Consensus Action on Salt and Health, a public health advocacy group based in London, a public analyst measured the sodium chloride content of gourmet rock and sea salts and table salt. The results showed all the salts contained as much sodium chloride as each other. According to a survey conducted by the London-based market research firm Which?, people who buy rock or sea salt said they do so because they believe those salts are healthier (24%) or more natural (39%) than table salt.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends reducing sodium daily intake to less than 2,300 mg. A further reduction to 1,500 mg daily intake of sodium should be sought by people age 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. The A.H.A. recommends consuming no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.

Tate & Lyle invests in sodium reduction

London-based Tate & Lyle, P.L.C. in 2011 signed an exclusive, worldwide license agreement with Eminate Ltd., a subsidiary of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, for a salt reduction technology from Eminate. Tate & Lyle will assume responsibility for commercializing the Soda-Lo technology, including manu-facturing, product development, sales and marketing. Tate & Lyle plans to commence a global rollout of the product this year.

“Soda-Lo is actually based on ordinary salt (sodium chloride) in conjunction with a small amount of binder such as maltodextrin or acacia gum, both naturally and widely used food ingredients,” said Mathew Wootton, group vice-president, investor relations for Tate & Lyle. “Using special manufacturing, the ingredients are combined to make small particles, microscopic hollow balls, which are a fraction of the size of normal salt crystals. The result is that the Soda-Lo particles taste saltier on the tongue and thus less Soda-Lo is required to achieve the same level of saltiness in foods than when using ordinary table salt.”

He said Soda-Lo may be used to achieve up to a 30% reduction in added salt in foods. Applications include bread, savory pastry, savory pie fillings, soups, cheese and baked savory products.

SuperBind may aid in meat product sodium reduction

Innophos, Inc., Cranbury, N.J., now has two ingredients that may be used to reduce sodium in meat products. SuperBind is a new phosphate blend designed to achieve superior binding in a variety of meat products, according to the company. It is helpful to enhance binding in lower sodium meat and poultry products. It may be labeled as sodium phosphate.

Curavis So-Lo 93 may be used to reduce sodium in processed meat and poultry. It is a specialty phosphate blend containing a balanced mix of potassium and sodium pyrophosphate to achieve good functionality and appearance, according to Innophos.

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