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Salt’s role in meat products under scrutiny

By Jess Halliday , 12-Feb-2010

Dutch research organisation TNO has embarked on a two-year collaboration with Vaessen-Shoemaker to explore ways to reducing salt content in composite meat products.

The food industry is working to a mandate of reducing the salt content in products, as part of a drive to reduce consumption to 6g a day for adults out of concern that excess salt raises blood pressure levels which can lead to cardiovascular disease and other health problems.

A large proportion of the salt in the modern diet is in processed foods, where it contributes not only to a product’s taste but also its texture, structure, shelf-life and safety.

TNO has been working on salt reduction for some time, and has already seen some success in reducing salt content in bacon and pastry products by 40 per cent.

The new project, which kicked off in last week’s Salt Awareness Week, aims to go further by reducing the salt content in composite meat products like burgers and sausages by 50 per cent.

Joost Vlankestijn, business development manager for reformulation at TNO told FoodNavigator.com: “We are going to focus on functionality – texture and shelf-life.”

His team will first investigate what the functional role of salt is in products. Once this has been established, it will look for solutions to build the functionality back in.

Vlankestijn added that they will not be looking at the taste impacts of lowering salt, as that is too easy. There are already a lot of solutions available that are geared towards fixing taste deviations, such as salt enhancers and flavourings.

The new project falls under the TNO-Ministry of Economic Affairs co-funding programme. Knowledge gained under this programme is owned by TNO, but as its partner Vaessen-Shoemaker, which has a 60 year track-record in developing functional ingredient blends, will be able to market solutions based on it on a non-exclusive basis.

Paul Veth, managing director of Vaessen-Schoemaker, said his company “wants to acquire in-depth knowledge through this cooperation to enable effective and innovative solutions to be developed for its customers”.

TNO has around 100 people in its food innovation department, and food reformulation makes up a major part of the department’s work. Vlankestijn said that around 10 people will be involved in the work on salt’s role in meat.

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