The new blend, which Cargill is marketing as Premier Light Salt 50/50, is intended to address the challenges that food manufacturers face in reducing sodium while retaining consumer acceptance of a product’s taste, as well as maintaining the functionality of salt. Salt is not only important for flavor; its functional roles include food preservation, controlling the fermentation rate of yeast, and strengthening the gluten in dough.
Cargill marketing manager John Franklin said: “This new ingredient is intended for food manufacturers looking for an economical solution to sodium reduction, but do not want to blend salt and potassium chloride themselves. Premier Light Salt 50/50 Blend delivers half the amount of sodium while maintaining many of the functionalities of regular salt and rounds out our sodium reduction line of specialty salts and ingredient systems.”
The company said that its new blended ingredient can be used to reduce sodium in processed meat and poultry products, cheese, salted snacks, seasoning blends, cereals, breads, and other bakery products.
There is a wide range of ingredients available to food manufacturers for sodium reduction, but Cargill said that many companies have found that they are not always inexpensive or easy to use. The company said that it offers a guide to help manufacturers reduce sodium, including identifying objectives and measuring consumer feedback in an effort to simplify the process.
The sodium in salt is thought to be a contributor to high blood pressure, which in turn has been linked to higher risk of heart attack and stroke, the United States’ leading causes of preventable death.
Although Americans consume nearly twice the recommended limit of salt each day, very little of the sodium in the national diet comes from saltshakers; an estimated 70 to 80 percent is added to foods before purchase. As a result, pressure on food manufacturers to slash the salt content of their products has grown.
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans – those currently in use as the 2010 guidelines are finalized – recommend a daily intake of less than 2,300mg of sodium. But specific groups, comprising nearly 70 percent of the US population, should not surpass 1,500mg of sodium a day according to the guidelines, including those with high blood pressure, blacks, and anyone middle-aged or older.
It is expected that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines will shift the general sodium consumption recommendation to 1,500mg per day in order to reflect that this limit applies to the majority of Americans, intensifying pressure on food companies to cut sodium in their products.