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Salt Replacements Give Processors Healthy Response to Consumer Demand

21 March 2014

CANADA - With increased consumption of processed foods, some Canadians consume almost double the recommended amount of sodium in their diet.

This has led to an increased consumer demand for reduced sodium food options.

Processors are looking to create low-salt processed meats to meet this demand. Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development researcher, Dr Zeb Pietrasik, who is pictured with Dr Nicole Gaudette, hopes his team’s research into the effects of salt replacements on processed meats could help processors meet this goal.

“Creating a desirable low-salt food product isn’t as easy as decreasing or eliminating the salt content because sodium provides more than the enhancement of flavour,” said Dr Pietrasik, alluding to the fact that salt also inhibits bacterial growth and increases shelf life of processed meats.

“While salt replacements aren’t a new concept, processors aren’t aware if these replacers can provide all the benefits that salt provides.”

With funding from industry and the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA), Dr Pietrasik’s team determined the effects of two different salt replacers and a flavour enhancer on processed meats.

At the Food Processing Development Centre in Leduc, the team chose two types of Ocean’s Flavor Sea Salts and Savoury Powder to experiment on beef steaks, ham, smokies and bologna.

For the steaks, the team added the salt replacers to the brine, which is used to marinate the steaks.

Dr. Pietrasik’s team found that the two sea salt replacers led to an acceptable sodium concentration under Health Check, while maintaining their moisture content, consumer acceptability and safety.

Adding salt replacers to the ready-to-eat products (ham, smokies and bologna) also resulted in a Health Check-approved sodium content level; however, one of the salt replacements caused a decrease in consumer acceptability.

This particular result did not surprise Dr Pietrasik.

“We believe this research gives companies a starting point to tailor their own products,” said Dr. Pietrasik.

With this project now completed, he hopes that processors will fine tune the results or avoid starting from scratch with their own research and development programmes.

“It isn’t a cut and dried solution, but rather a shortcut towards meeting consumer demand and increasing cost effectiveness.”
Gordon Cove,” ALMA president and CEOP is also looking forward to the future benefits.

“Improving the healthfulness of Alberta food products is an important aspect of meeting consumer needs.

“This includes finding new ways to decrease sodium in processed meats without compromising quality or food safety,” said Mr Cove.

“This research addresses that need, providing another way for researchers and industry to work together to help increase consumer confidence in Alberta foods.”


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