Reducing salt levels in meat products probably would be easier if formulators did not have to worry about rising ingredient costs.

“Salt is very abundant and very easy to come by,” says Jim Lamkey, senior principal scientist for the technical services group of Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings, but he added many replacement ingredients are reasonable in price. “They’re not extravagantly more expensive, but they are going to be higher in cost than what salt is,” he says.

Taking cost into account, ingredient suppliers are offering ways to save on the use of flavor-enhancing and flavor-masking ingredients.

Camlow P, an ingredient based on white button mushrooms grown in Europe, may enhance flavors of ingredients like oregano, thyme and paprika, according to Mike Kagan, technical specialist for Cambrian, Oakville, Ont.

Cost savings may be achieved because not as much flavor-enhancing ingredients are needed, he says. In deli meat, such as air-dried pepperoni, the inclusion of Camlow P at 0.15 percent may lead to a sodium reduction of 25 percent. Camlow P also may bring out flavor in such products as rosemary oven-roasted turkey, Kagan adds.

Camlow P adds umami taste and may be labeled as natural flavor. For simple label benefits, it may replace such ingredients as autolyzed yeast extract, I+G and monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Cost in use for Camlow P is similar to cost in use for MSG, Kagan says. MSG may cost $1.10 to $1.15 a lb. When used at a 6 percent dose, cost in use comes out to 3 cents to 4 cents a lb. of product, he says. Camlow P may cost $14 to $18 per lb. When used at a 0.2 percent dose, cost in use comes out to about 3 cents per lb. of product.

DSM, Heerlen, The Netherlands, offers Multirome LS, which is more concentrated than traditional yeast extract-based flavors and therefore may be used in lower doses.

“As Multirome LS is not a direct salt replacer, it is difficult to compare its cost in use with that of salt,” according to DSM. “As a taste ingredient, it can help to significantly reduce sodium in a range of savory products. It also boosts the intensity of meat flavors and adds a lingering effect to enhance existing tastes.”

Nu-Tek Salt advanced formula potassium chloride may eliminate the cost of flavor enhancers completely. Traditionally, companies have used potassium chloride and flavor-masking agents to replace sodium chloride in meat products, says Don Mower, president and CEO, Nu-Tek Salt, LLC, Minnetonka, Minn. “The resulting sodium reduction is typically low, and the addition of expensive flavor maskers doesn’t make it cost-effective,” he says.

The patented technology of Nu-Tek Salt minimizes the bitter taste and metallic notes generally found in traditional potassium chloride-based products, Mower says.

Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings, a business of Omaha-based ConAgra Foods, Inc., takes a three-prong approach to removing sodium in meat products, Lamkey says.

For the first prong, the objective is to replace the functional component of salt. Potassium chloride supplies similar functionality to sodium chloride when it comes to moisture retention and texture, but potassium chloride also may bring a bitter taste, says Lamkey. The second prong is to mask any bitterness that arises from the addition of potassium. Flavors that have a sweet component to them often are added to mask that bitterness.

For the third prong, Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings will build back the flavor that was lost when sodium was reduced, he says.

Replacing 10 percent to 15 percent of sodium in a meat product may require only a few alterations, Lamkey says. If a product has a complex flavor, such as in Buffalo-style chicken, consumers may not notice small changes in sodium, he says. They are more likely to notice small changes in products that do not have a complex flavor.

Innophos, Inc., Cranbury, NJ, offers Curavis So-Lo 93, a phosphate blend containing a mix of potassium and sodium pyrophosphate that has been shown to achieve good functionality and appearance in reduced sodium processed meat and poultry applications. Curavis So-Lo has 93 percent less sodium than standard sodium phosphates, along with binding qualities and solubility.

Sodium reduction in meat-product accompaniments also is possible. San Francisco-based Kikkoman Sales USA Inc. made that evident at its booth during the Institute of Food Technologists’ food exposition in Chicago in July. Kikkoman natural flavor enhancer-PY was used in the bread of an Italian beef sandwich with au jus to amplify umami and reduce salt by up to 30 percent. Kikkoman dehydrated less-sodium PTN soy sauce was featured in the dry rub on the beef.

Breadings on meat products are another opportunity for sodium reduction. Using Soda-Lo salt microspheres from London-based Tate & Lyle PLC may reduce the sodium in breadings by 40 percent.

Sodium reduction, in general, may remain an industry hot topic for a few years. The global sodium reduction ingredients market is expected to reach $1,006.6 million by 2018 through a compound annual growth rate of 11 percent, according to Dallas-based MarketsandMarkets.

SODIUM levels & goals

Many people in the food industry, government agencies and the medical field may agree that reducing sodium in products may lead to beneficial health results for consumers. Goals for reduced sodium consumption vary. Here are a few:

• The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends people reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg. A further reduction to 1,500 mg of sodium per day should be sought by people age 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

• The Federal Register of Jan. 26, 2012, gave nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. In 10 years a sodium reduction of 25 percent to 50 percent from baseline is sought in breakfasts and lunches. By July 1, 2014, schools are expected to modify menus and recipes to reduce the sodium content of school lunches by about 5 percent to 10 percent from their baseline.

• The Institute of Medicine on May 14, 2013, said the average American adult consumes 3,400 mg or more of sodium per day. Evidence from studies does not support reducing sodium intake to below 2,300 mg per day, the IOM said.

• The Federal Register of June 28, 2013, listed regulations to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, other than food sold under the lunch and breakfast programs. Sodium content in snacks was limited to 230 mg per item packaged or served. On July 1, 2016, the sodium standard will move to 200 mg per item packaged or served.

Jeff Gelski is associate editor with Food Business News, a sister publication of Meat&Poultry.