Launched at the IFT food expo in Chicago last week, SaltWise is said to behave like salt, meaning that in certain applications all food makers need to do is "pull salt out and put SaltWise in", according to Cargill. The company said its new line of salt reduction systems can be used in applications including prepared foods, frozen meals, meat and poultry, soups, sauces and dressings, and salted snacks. Salt levels can be reduced by 25 to 50 percent, it said. The systems are "highly flexible", according to the firm, which said that these can be easily customized to a customer's specific needs. SaltWise comes in granular form and claims to handle and act like salt. It is readily soluble in water and is stable to heat, acid, dehydration and freeze/thaw processes, said Cargill. It also claims to control water activity and cook yields in products such as processed meats. According to research carried out by the firm, 37 percent of consumers over 50 are "actively managing" their salt intake, due to its connections to the risk of hypertension and related conditions, such as heart disease and stroke. Some 32 percent of consumers report using low-sodium foods. Overall, the use of low sodium foods rose to 66 percent in 2006 compared to 62 percent in 2005. In the US, 95 percent of men and 75 percent of women are said to consume more than the recommended daily intake levels of salt. But consumer awareness of the substance's negative health connections is rising, resulting in more and more people seeking out lower sodium alternatives. But as always, consumers are unwilling to compromise on taste, which yet again places the challenge firmly in the hands of ingredient and food manufacturers. Cargill said it has already entered into a partnership with the J&B Group for use of SaltWise in its No Name brand of meats, following consumer demand for lower sodium versions of the products. Cargill's technology has allowed the firm to develop steak, chicken and pork products with a 33 percent sodium reduction, said the J&B group. The products are due to be available in early 2008. The company said its SaltWise systems are GRAS, non-allergenic and kosher. The firm would not disclose the ingredients in the new system, or its label claim, as the technology is patent-pending. Cargill featured tortilla chips and ranch dip using SaltWise at the IFT. The prototypes contained 33 percent less sodium than regular counterparts. Other prototypes featured by the the firm at this year's IFT were: baked goods with healthier fats; beverages that address bone health and energy; adult-focused indulgent cereal and convenience snacks with health benefits; a healhtful dairy drink; confections with no or reduced sugar; and organic products including an organic confection and an organic low-calorie beverage.