Project Year 2014

Reducing salt in food

Herbs and mineral salts are among the salt substitutes of tomorrow. The food industry is now reducing the salt content of many products.

A comprehensive collaborative project between the food industry and researchers, SALTO, has shown that it is possible to reduce the quantity of salt in food. Results from SALTO indicate that the salt content of sausages, liver paté, cheese and cooked ham could be reduced by 25 to 30 per cent. And many food producers have already started on this important job, which is believed to be one of the most important things we can do to improve public health. The average Norwegian eats 10 grams of salt a day, which is twice the recommended amount. Calculations show that, if we can reduce the population’s salt intake by 10-30 per cent, this could give significant health benefits and cut the cost of future health care.

One of the major challenges for the food industry is that traditionally, salt in food has many different functions. Salt gives flavour and also reinforces other
flavours, but at the same time we can soon get used to food with a lower salt content. Salt helps food to last longer and is important for general food safety, in terms of bacteria and disease. Salt is also important for how the food behaves during preparation. The main aim of SALTO was therefore to reduce the salt content of meat products and cheese, while maintaining shelf life, flavour and the various other functions salt plays a part in at present.

Salt substitutes such as potassium chloride, lactates, phosphates and milk minerals have been tested. So have herbs such as thyme, winter savory, oregano, rosemary and sage. Using herbs can be a useful aid to reducing salt in liver patés, for example. Herbs have also been shown to have a growth-inhibiting effect on some bacteria.

SALTO has given the companies more competence in using the salt substitutes available on the market and knowledge about how they affect various products.
Many companies have increased their ability to make products with less salt, and several already have the first reduced-salt products on the market.

Orkla, Mills, Tine, Espeland, NHO Mat og Drikke, KLF, Bioforsk, SINTEF and NMBU

The Research Council of Norway

More useful research results