The Sea Salt Grinder cut is aimed at food manufacturers who are targeting consumers with an interest in all-natural flavors, new cooking techniques and global cuisines. Sea salt is rich in minerals, and has a more natural perception than chemical salt. Cargill stressed, however, that it is not aware of any medical or nutritional studies that have been conducted relating sea salt consumption to health outcomes. The food industry has been criticized for 'hidden' salt content in food products, following concerns about the effects of excess salt on health and the amount contained in processed foods. However, the grinder cut, designed for use in gourmet seasoning blends and salt mills, allows the product to mix thoroughly with other seasoning ingredients and still be seen, rather than settling on the bottom or being invisible to the eye. It comes as more food manufacturers are boasting of sea salt on the front of packaging and on ingredients statements, according to Nancy Lucas, marketing director at Cargill salt. Lucas told FoodNavigator-USA.com: "Marketers in food companies are often looking for something new and our whole sea salt line demonstrates that they are on trend. "It goes together with consumers looking for more natural, holistic types of food. "It is a specialty salt and very unique because it comes from the Pacific Ocean. There are only so many large crystals that can be harvested in that way." More than 800 new products containing sea salt were introduced in 2007, a 16 percent increase from 2006, according to the Innova New Product Database. So far this year, 1,000 new products have already been offered or developed containing sea salt, Lucas added. Health concerns A body of evidence has linked excess salt (sodium chloride) in the diet to an increased risk of high blood pressure and stroke and governments have been leading salt reduction initiatives. According to the US Dietary Guidelines, over three quarters of the salt in the average American diet comes from processed food. The guidelines suggest that young adults should limit their daily sodium intake to 2,300mg but this is significantly lower than the 3,400mg actually consumed, according to data from The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The US government has been re-examining its position on salt in response to health advocates campaigning for stricter limits to be placed on the levels of salt in processed foods. Food manufacturers have also been trying to lower salt content in food. One example is Nestle which says it is looking at "every possibility for salt reduction". Lucas added: "Some manufacturers look to all sources of sodium in the food, such as MSG for example, and seek to re-balance their recipe for optimum flavor and sodium content. Sea salt has not yet really been a fail safe solution for sodium reduction." Salt harvest Cargill's Sea Salt Grinder cut is harvested from the Pacific Ocean, rather than collected from ancient dried salt deposits or salty lakes. The salt is made by channeling ocean water into ponds, and letting the sun and wind evaporate it naturally. This is a 99.8 percent pure, tightly screened cut of natural sea salt and is said to meet the requirements of the Food Chemical Codex, which sets standards for quality and purity of ingredients found in foods. The US is the world's top salt producer, according to the Salt Institute, producing 1.6m tons, or $287m worth of food-grade salt in 2007. This article has been amended from the original published on June 19 to indicate that Cargill is not aware of studies on sea salt and health, and that sea salt has not been seen as a solution for sodium reduction.