“These days, consumers, regulators and food companies desire to lower total sodium content in food products. A common way to reduce total sodium is to replace sodium salt that is used in dough products as a flavorant with a potassium or calcium salt ‘salt substitute’,” General Mills inventors, led by researcher Braden Erickson, write.
“This substitution usually leads to a significant ingredient cost increase. Also, due to bitterness and metallic taste, potassium salt can only be used up to certain levels. Novel cost-effective sodium solutions are still needed.”
General Mills’ claimed invention uses ‘shortening chips’ – solid particles that are easy to handle, store and process – that suit companies preparing dough products on a commercial scale, with reduced sodium and/or healthful fat types.
'More healthful' dough formulations
Filing No.14396168– published on February 19 2015 and filed in March 2013 – covers fat particles that comprise a fat, flavorant salt and (optionally) water.
“These fat particles can be used to prepare dough formulations that meet the desire of being more healthful than previous dough formulations, due to a reduced sodium content, optional more healthful fat content (e.g. low trans fats or low saturated fats) or both,” General Mills inventors' write.
“Additionally, the fat particles can be conveniently used in conveniently used in commercial or consumer scale dough processing,” they add.
The fat particles, dough compositions and methods outlined in the patent promise novel and cost-effective means by which manufacturers can reduce sodium in baked dough products, by using the fat particles to deliver and distribute flavored salt topically throughout foods to create local spikes.
Maintaining the salt flavor...
“Advantageously, the locally increased flavorant salt concentrations can allow for a lower total salt content of the food product, e.g. baked dough product, while maintaining the salt flavor that is similar to an otherwise similar baked dough product having a higher concentration of flavorant salt that is more evenly distributed throughout the baked dough product,” the inventors write.
Flavorant salts may take the form of particles suspended throughout fat particles, concentrated at their surface or dissolved within the optional water droplets suspended in the solid fat particles, which can take any shape desired – from chips and flakes to grains, granules and rods.
'High localized' salt concentrations boost saltiness
General Mills’ scientists define flavorant salts as anything from sodium chloride to potassium chloride, monosodium glutamate and other chemicals such as natural plant or cell extracts that can be used as salt substitutes or saltiness enhancers.
The patent filing gives three examples of dough products (biscuits) made using flavorant salt-containing fat particles: a control biscuit with a conventional amount of salt/sodium chloride (2A in General Mills' drawing) and a second biscuit with half the amount of salt (2B).
A third ‘invention’ biscuit (2C) contains half the amount of salt versus the control, but uses the fat particles as a carrier.
“The biscuit shows that a reduced total flavorant salt content can produce a higher than expected ‘saltiness’ (taste response), if the flavorant salt is contained in the baked dough product in high localized concentrations, such as by the use of flavorant salt-containing fat particles described herein,” General Mills’ inventors write.