Less salt – salt in the wound?
No more than 5 grams of salt per day in your diet is what the authorities are recommending. Today, we eat about 10 grams. Companies want to reduce salt intake, but there are a lot of considerations to be made.
Companies in the network: * Fatland Sandefjord * Toma Mat * O. Kavli * H.O. Grindheim * Mills * Vestfold fugl
The food industry are feeling the pressure from both government and consumers to supply more foods with reduced salt contents. Research shows that a lower salt intake could reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and obesity. Many companies in the Norwegian food industry would like to support healthier diets, and are taking these demands seriously.
They do, however, face many challenges when reducing salt content. Salt is not only for flavoring; it also affects shelf life, water-binding capacity and texture as well as food safety.
Salt as a hurdle
Salt can prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria. Scientists call the process of trying to prevent bacterial growth "hurdle technology".
"Lactobacilli are known bacteria killers. High pressure is an efficient method, but is not suitable for all products. Salt could also prevent the growth of bacteria we would rather avoid," says senior advisor Hans Blom at Nofima Mat. He is one of the key people helping to increase the knowledge of salt in Norwegian businesses.
Six Norwegian businesses are part of the network. The purpose of the network is to give the participants the knowledge they need in order to develop products with reduced salt content in their businesses. Mills is one of these businesses. One of their goals in the network is to gain the ability to reduce sodium content in low-fat margarine. They are running trials where different salt replacements are being tested. The products will also be subject to sensory testing.
The properties that are vital in relation to salt content varies from product to product, so compensation measures will differ from product to product. Some products are dry salted, some are spray salted, and some are submerged in brine.
"Businesses are running tests on various alternatives based on different challenges. Toma Mat tested a chicken sausage with rapeseed oil and reduced salt content. They have used salt replacements and reduced the amount of sodium added," says Ida Synnøve Grini. She is in charge of the network, and works as an advisor for food and health at Nofima Mat.
"The most important thing for businesses is that consumers find the food palatable. The challenge is to keep the sensory quality of the products, such as texture, for example. A number of companies are trying to gradually reduce salt content. They also want to make sure that they know how the reduction affects for example self life for the product. Additionally, they would like to know more about the various salt replacements on the market," says Ida Synnøve Grini.
A challenge to the authorities
Ida Synnøve Grini says that the authorities have little knowledge of salt replacements. Norwegian authorities need to take charge and evaluate salt replacements from a health perspective. What happens when sodium is replaced by for example potassium or other nutrients? Could salt replacements be harmful to the human body?
"This is the same challenge that we face with artificial sweeteners, and we have to assume that there will also be debates about the use of salt replacements. The authorities now have the perfect opportunity to get ahead of the game," Ida Synnøve Grini concludes.