In a lengthy profile of PepsiCo, Inc. and Indra Nooyi, its chief executive officer, in the current issue of the New Yorker, a company chemist seeks to put the healthfulness of salty snacks into perspective by stating that a slice of bread has the same sodium content as a small bag of potato chips – 200 mg. Never mind that a single-serving vending bag of Lay’s potato chips contains 250 mg of sodium versus 100 mg in a slice of Wonder bread (what happened to the magazine’s celebrated fact checkers?), the principal focus of the profile was the serious attention the world’s largest snack company is addressing public concerns about its products.
To date, the baking industry has taken a low-key approach in response to mounting pressure to reduce sodium in bread. The chemist’s comments offer a couple of valuable lessons for baking.
First, the industry must continue to protect itself against inaccurate media statements about the health profile of grain-based foods.
Second, sodium remains something of an Achilles heel for baking, and the industry should expect unflattering attention to be drawn to the true (and significant) sodium content of grain-based foods. Against this backdrop, baking should carry on its slow and quiet exploration of opportunities to reduce sodium content when possible and appropriate.