TrendWire, January 5, 2008

TrendWire, January 5, 2008

Food & Drink

TrendWire, January 5, 2008


The Food Channel Trendwire
January 5, 2009 • Volume 23, Number 1 •

Sodium Tagged as the Next Big Nutritional No-No

Year after year, we get news of the latest food-related health problem. Whether it’s the once miracle food margarine or cancer-causing chemicals in french fries, it seems we’re never without a dire warning on the consequences of pursuing our current dietary practices. While 2007 brought us the banning of trans fats and 2008 upped our awareness of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), 2009 may well be the year we are educated on the role that sodium is playing in our diets.

The typical American consumes more than 4,000 mg of sodium each day, significantly more than the 2,300 mg recommended. People eating processed foods can reach that level quickly. Sodium is hidden in foods many of us wouldn’t expect, including healthy foods such as whole-grain breakfast cereal and cottage cheese. While many experts agree that an increased amount of sodium in a diet can lead to elevated blood pressure, they still debate how much the elevation is and how dangerous it is.


The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), dubbed by some critics as the Food Police for their relentless attacks on all things foods, issued a report in December comparing the salt content of various packaged foods and restaurants foods, noting changes between its 2005 and 2008 versions (you can find the report at In a press release on the organization’s website, its executive director, Michael F. Jacobson, says, “The food industry is knowingly overusing a chemical that can cause crippling disease or early death. Despite 30 years of unkept promises from food companies, nothing has changed. The average sodium content remains dangerously high. The next (presidential) Administration can’t sit by incuriously as chain restaurants and food manufacturers recklessly turn Americans’ brains and hearts into ticking time bombs.”

While few experts agree with the hyperbole of the CSPI’s unequivocal statements (check out the Salt Institute’s website for example), most agree that we could do well to reduce the amount of sodium in our diets. To that end, many manufacturers are looking to reformulate foods with less sodium or developing foods that add flavor without sodium.

Here are some up and coming salt replacers gaining notice among food experts lately.


  • Betrasalt

    Redpoint Bio Corporation, based in the UK, has filed for American patents for a new salt substitute called Betrasalt, which is less bitter than potassium chloride, a common sodium substitute.

  • SaltWise

    Cargill’s ( proprietary sodium reduction ingredient system, called SaltWise, can be used by restaurant chains and food manufacturers alike to reduce sodium in processed or prepackaged foods.

  • SaltTrim

    Wild Flavors Inc. ( developed SaltTrim, a proprietary technology that works with potassium chloride to reduce the sodium content of foods or beverages while masking the bitter flavors sometimes common with potassium.

  • Wix-Fresh™ Umami

    Wixon Inc.( created this potassium chloride-based salt replacement designed to improve the overall taste of a product without increasing the sodium.

  • Benephos

    ICL Performance Products LP ( has commercialized a new reduced-sodium phosphate technology that provides beverage formulators the ability to market shelf-stable beverages that are lower in sodium.

Two major obstacles exist to wide scale use of these substitutes: cost and consumer preference. To marinate a chicken breast for example, using a quality salt substitute costs a restaurant chain more than a consumer is willing to pay for it. So until the cost for the more healthy additives comes down, consumers may have a tough time finding products reformulated with the healthier salt substitutes. The other piece of the equation is consumer taste preference. Some products seem to taste better with salt substitute products than others during consumer taste tests. Potato products such as french fries seem to still hit tasters’ palates in a pleasing way, while marinated and cured proteins are less appealing. It’s probably a question of “when” rather than “if” sodium goes the way of trans fat, so continue to watch this trend as it impacts all areas of the food industry.



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