Home Health & Wellness World Off Track for 30% Cut in Sodium Intake: Expert Explains How Food Manufacturers Can Help

World Off Track for 30% Cut in Sodium Intake: Expert Explains How Food Manufacturers Can Help

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Excess salt intake has been linked to increased blood pressure and a greater risk of heart disease and stroke. According to research, approximately 1.89 million deaths each year are associated with consuming too much sodium.

The World Health Organization recommends that adults consume less than 5 grams of salt daily. Despite this, the global average salt intake is currently estimated at 10.8 grams a day.

In many high-income countries, approximately 75% of salt in the diet comes from processed foods and meals prepared outside the home. Consequently, food manufacturers are under considerable pressure to bring salt levels down when formulating and preparing products.

With this in mind, Daria Pashkova, product and marketing specialist at Ohly, a world-leading provider of specialty yeast-based ingredients for salt reduction, shares her insight into how the industry can take steps to reduce salt usage in food processing.

Why is salt reduction in food important?

As well as being a dietary necessity, salt has given us the priceless ability to preserve food.

However, consuming too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure. It also results in stiff or narrow arteries, where fatty material can build up. As consumers become more aware of these risks, they are actively seeking out and choosing foods with lower salt content.

According to a WHO report released last year, the world is off track to achieve its global target of reducing sodium intake by 30% by 2025, with only 5% of WHO member states protected by mandatory and comprehensive sodium reduction policies.

Strategies for reducing the use of salt in food production

Introducing a gradual salt reduction timeline

It can be difficult to reduce the amount of sodium in products suddenly due to consumers’ familiarity with the taste of an original recipe. However, utilising a timeline approach and gradually reducing the amount of salt used in key products will enable consumers to adjust slowly to less salt without perceiving a noticeable difference in taste or texture.

Utilising natural flavour solutions 

Herbs and spices have the potential to add flavour, depth, and complexity to products while enhancing taste without the need for excessive sodium application. If used skillfully and with a bit of experimentation, these natural flavour enhancers can be hugely beneficial to food manufacturers seeking to reduce the amount of salt in their products.

Aligned with the growing demand for clean-label and health-conscious foods, culinary powders derived from natural sources also offer a convenient solution to deliver concentrated vinegar, mustard or fruit flavours.

Using yeast extract to reduce the need for salt 

Certain yeast extracts will reduce the need for salt by bringing out a natural savoury taste in foods. They are naturally rich in glutamic acid and nucleotides, which boost umami and savoury flavours.

When yeast extracts are added to food, their glutamic acid content interacts with specific taste receptors on the tongue known as umami receptors or T1R1/T1R3 taste receptors. This interaction enhances the overall umami taste perception in the dish, reducing the need for salt.

However, it’s important to identify the right yeast extract product for the right task. Torula and baker’s yeast extracts are widely used to meet various taste challenges faced by manufacturers. Some will serve to highlight the existing flavour profile of food, while others are great for masking off-notes, increasing salinity or boosting umami when reducing salt content.

Innovations in technology and flavour methods

As technological advancements continue to evolve, new opportunities for enhancing flavours and reducing salt content in food without compromising on taste are becoming increasingly common.

Methods such as fermentation, enzymatic reactions, and the incorporation of unique flavour compounds provide food producers with the ability to explore different methods of salt reduction throughout their processes.

Daria Pashkova, product and marketing specialist at Ohly, says: “The importance of salt reduction within the food industry cannot be overstated. We know that excessive salt intake has been associated with several preventable health issues. As consumers become increasingly conscious of this, they are seeking out healthier food options.

“We have seen a rise in food manufacturers responding to this change in consumer behaviour by exploring ways to reduce sodium levels in their food formulations. The use of yeast-based ingredients not only aligns with salt reduction goals but also with those wishing to have clean-label formulations with natural ingredients.

“Consumers are demanding transparency; they want to know what’s in the food they’re putting in their bodies. And yeast-based ingredients offer an excellent solution to meeting their needs.”

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