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Salt imitation to reduce salt without flavor impact

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 04-Mar-2009
Last updated the 06-Mar-2009 at 10:32 GMT

Bell Flavors and Fragrances has introduced a new sodium-reducing flavor technology for use in meats, snacks, condiments and soups, which it claims mimics the flavor of salt without its negative health impacts.

ReduxSo is a natural flavor system based on potassium chloride, allowing up to a 50 percent salt reduction in processed foods. It has been developed to support industry efforts to diminish salt content in the face of government and consumer health concerns.

Bell’s vice president of R&D Flavors Simon Poppelsdorf told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “Of course potassium chloride has been around for ages, but manufacturers complained about the metallic aftertaste. So that was where we started from.”

He said that the ingredient is as salty as salt, and includes flavor maskers to mitigate any negative taste impact.

Companies under pressure

With claims that Americans get up to 80 percent of their total sodium intake from packaged foods, manufacturers have been under pressure to reduce salt content. However, this presents challenges in terms of consumer acceptability, often in addition to replicating the functionality of salt as a preservative or stabilizer.

Poppelsdorf said that ReduxSo could help manufacturers retain the more salty flavors that are enjoyed by consumers, although it does not serve the other functional purposes of salt.

The health impacts of excessive salt consumption are well known, including its contribution to high blood pressure and stroke. Despite this, Americans currently consume about 10 grams of salt per person each day – or around two-thirds more than the maximum of 6 grams recommended under US government guidelines.

Poppelsdorf said: “We saw a couple of years ago a lot of questions about salt reduction. The point is that 60 to 80 percent of salt consumption is from processed foods, so that’s where you have to tackle the issue. It’s not much use to give salt replacers directly to consumers, so we started to work with the food processors.”

Bell Flavors and Fragrances has developed ReduxSo in both liquid and powder forms and works with food manufacturers to incorporate it into their products.

Other salt replacers

Redpoint Bio Corporation also developed a flavor system for masking the bitterness associated with potassium chloride last December, which can be used as a bitterness masker as well as a flavor enhancer to allow for complete replacement for salt.

Other companies that have also launched products which they claim can replace salt and counter the undesirable aftertaste associated with potassium chloride include Wild with its SaltTrim and Jungbunzlauer’s sub4salt product.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest and the American Medical Association have been petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to change the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status of salt since 2005. The FDA held a hearing in September 2007 but no action has yet been taken.

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