Reducing sodium sources while saving quality

All types of meat and poultry – value and premium brands – gain consumer appeal when sodium content skews on the lower side, according to a Harris Poll sponsored by Kemin, Des Moines, Iowa. While some research suggests that flagging a sodium reduction on package fronts may imply less flavor, other research indicates that some consumers are attracted to such content claims. With so many ingredient technologies available to cut back on added sodium, it is now possible to tweak formulations without compromising on quality. Consumers welcome the efforts.

To get sodium content down, processors should evaluate all the sources of sodium along with their functions. Many sodium-containing ingredients are necessary for the manufacture of delicious, visually appealing, safe and affordable meat and poultry products.

The primary source of sodium is sodium chloride, or simply salt, which is used in brines, marinades and seasonings. Salt is included directly in batters and breadings, with the latter often based on chemically leavened bread crumbs, where the chemical leavening agent may also be a source of sodium, e.g., sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

In some lower sodium applications, it may be helpful to add flavoring systems that boost salty taste. “Yeast extracts can be used to enhance consumer perception of saltiness without adding any additional sodium to the ingredient deck,” says Roger Lane, marketing manager, Sensient Flavors, Hoffman Estates, Illinois. “They are labeled simply ‘yeast extract.’”

Sensient also offers sodium reduction systems labeled as “natural flavor.” Both are used in meat applications the same way as salt, and allow for up to a 40 percent reduction in sodium. “There are no drawbacks to using these solutions as they don’t produce any of the bitterness or chemical notes that can sometimes be a byproduct of the sodium reduction process,” Lane says.

Read the full article at Meat + Poultry

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