The spotlight has been turned on salt (sodium chloride) intake in the US, as excess salt in the diet has been linked to an increase risk of hypertension and cardiovascular event.
According to the USDA, the average American consumes 4000mg of sodium per day – while they should be consuming just 2700mg. Seventy seven percent is understood to come from processed food, where it performs taste enhancing and preserving functions.
This so-called ‘hidden’ salt means formulating safe and good tasting foods with lower sodium has become a major priority for food manufacturers.
Cargill is now introducing Premier potassium chloride, which can be used to replace sodium chloride or put more potassium into foods – thus improving the sodium:potassium balance. The company says it can be used in including ham and bacon curing, cheeses, beverages, seasonings, bakery products, margarine and frozen dough.
The new addition complements existing offerings in Cargill’s salt reduction portfolio. Its SaltWise sodium reduction system is said to allow reduction of sodium by between 25 and 50 per cent in sauces, processed meats, meals, soups, dressings and salty snacks.
The company also offers Alberger Brand Flake Salt, which is tiny, multi-faceted crystals with a large collective surface area and low bulk density. It is used topically on potato or corn chips, crackers and bread sticks, salted nuts and seeds – and is claimed to give better adherence, blendability and solubility compared to salt that comes in cube-shaped granules.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest recently hit out at food firms for the salt levels in their foods, as a survey showed that the average sodium content of 528 packaged and restaurant foods stayed essentially the same between 2005 and 2008.
It said the big brand-to-brand differences in numerous categories of foods indicated that some companies “could easily lower sodium levels and still have perfectly marketable products”, claimed the CSPI.
The CSPI petitioned the FDA in 2005 to change the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status of salt. FDA held a hearing in September 2007.
It is expected to publish a report in February 2010, but a series of open meetings are planned throughout this year.