Bakers wary over salt reduction technical feasibility

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Salt reduction Redox Sodium Food standards agency

Ongoing amendments to salt reduction targets across European markets like the UK are throwing up unknown challenges for bakers beyond just affecting taste, with fears over the possible wider impacts for product quality, according to industry leaders.

Gordon Polson, director of trade body, the Bakers Federation, says that recent amendments made to the UK’s Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) non-mandatory salt guidelines, following previous targets set for 2006 and 2010, may not be able to be met by bread makers.

The FSA unveiled the new 2012 targets this week relating to the food industry’s salt commitments, trimming back levels once more in some 80 product categories.

‘Challenging’ was how the FSA labelled the new targets, which it says aim to reduce salt intake to 6g a day for adults (2.4g sodium), from around 9.5g in 2000/1. The current consumption estimate is at 8.6g, indicating that progress has been made since the campaign was initiated.

Baker fears

Polson says that while the federation’s members have pledged to meet the previous 2010 targets, which amount to 0.43mg of sodium per 100g of bread, the 2012 commitments of additional cuts to 0.4mg per 100g pose massive challenges.

Beyond the issue of maintaining taste, the Federation says it is also concerned at the impact on bread product quality by reducing salt in formulations. Polson claims that there are technical barriers that need to be overcome in terms of basic quality of bread, if further salt reductions can prove viable.

“We have been honest with the FSA and told them that we may not be able to meet the 2012 targets,”​ he says. “We have therefore offered to work with the FSA, perhaps through joint studies, in working to support and find future alternatives to salt use.”

Supplier innovation

The concerns have been also met by other formulators and ingredients groups in the bakery sector, which suggest that the issue of salt reduction is very much here to stay, despite apparent future difficulties.

Givaudan, a supplier of ingredient products, tells that in developing new solutions for salt reduction products, it too was focused on possible formulation difficulties in reduced sodium environments.

A spokesperson for the group says that beyond looking at the possible technical boundaries of producing quality bread with reduced salt, it is also having to balance wider consumer and customer concerns about formulation.

“When it comes to further improving flavouring options, we are seeing lots more customers wanting products that are also naturalfor example​,” says the spokesperson. “In savoury products, salt is a key pillar, though we must also look at other trends besides technical issues."

Givaudan claims that salt is a profound ingredient for all types of food formulation. In accepting this, the company adds that the impacts it can have on more functional focuses like stickiness of dough should not be underplayed.

Related topics Ingredients Health

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