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Soda-Lo: Tate & Lyle's novel solution to sodium reduction (clue: it's salt, only much, much smaller...)

By Elaine WATSON , 16-Nov-2012
Last updated the 16-Nov-2012 at 10:32 GMT

Engineered using a patent-pending process that re-crystallizes standard table salt to create microscopic free-flowing hollow ‘microspheres’, Soda-Lo can help firms slash sodium and retain their clean labels because it is still listed as ‘salt’ on pack, says Tate & Lyle.

The ‘microspheres’, which deliver a disproportionately salty taste for their size by maximizing surface area relative to volume, are ideal for topical applications such as savory snacks or products inherently low in moisture so their structure is maintained.

They also work well in applications where the oil and fat content micro-encapsulates and protects the tiny salt crystals during processing.

However, tests show Soda-Lo can also help firms reduce sodium in everything from cheese and bread to tomato soup, Tate & Lyle research chemist Sue Butler told FoodNavigator-USA at the Supply Side West show in Las Vegas.

While a soup application might not seem logical (won’t the tiny salt crystals just dissolve before they can work their magic?), for some reason, Soda-Lo does enable sodium reductions in tomato soup, she added:

“We’ve found that there is something about tomato-based soups, we’re thinking it might be a pH effect, but Soda-Lo just has a nice interaction with tomato.”

Size matters...

It is well-known that the smaller the crystals, the higher the salt perception. However, simply grinding salt to make the particles smaller does not deliver as the tiny particles quickly lose their free-flowing properties and stick together.

By contrast, Soda-Lo has been engineered using a process developed by UK-based scientist Dr Stephen Minter that re-crystallizes salt to create free-flowing, microscopic hollow balls that at 5-10 microns are a fraction of the size of standard salt (c.200-500 microns).

Exclusive global tie up

In the UK, where Soda-Lo was first introduced, the biggest successes have been in the bread and bakery sector, but extensive trials have also been conducted with cheese, vegetarian sausages, crisps, sauces, soups, breakfast cereals, muffins, pizza bases, rice snacks and bakery premixes.

The results in bread have been particularly encouraging, enabling plant bakers to cut salt by more than 80% without impacting volume, texture or weight and increase shelf-life as the tiny salt crystals cross-link gluten in dough more effectively, helping to lock in moisture.

Tate & Lyle licensed Soda-Lo from Eminate Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of The University of Nottingham, UK, to commercialize it globally. Under the license agreement, Tate & Lyle assumes responsibility for commercializing the technology on a global basis including manufacturing, product development, sales and marketing.

*Soda-Lo was recognized as the 'Heart Health and Circulatory Innovation of the Year' and the 'Most Innovative Health Ingredient of the Year' at the NuW Excellence Awards, winners of which were announced in Frankfurt at the Health Ingredients Europe show this week.

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