Researchers from Netherlands-based NIZO’s Top Institute Food and Nutrition said they changed the structure of the meat, but not the firmness, in order to maximise perception of the available salt. The structural change allows product developers to modulate how much serum is released, increasing the product’s juiciness.
“We have already developed innovative clean label solutions for the reduction of salt in bread, cheese and meat while retaining a good taste,” said senior scientist and project manager Fred van de Velde. “These include natural salt enhancers, enhancement through inhomogeneous distribution, and recently the enhancement by serum release. With this technology a salt reduction of at least 15% and possibly 40% can be achieved.”
Perceived juiciness of a meat product is influenced by how much serum is released during chewing, and how easily the meat binds with water, an aspect affected by salt content.
A trained sensory panel assessed the saltiness, firmness and juiciness of sausages with a low and high serum release at three salt levels, and perceived those with high serum release – or increased juiciness – as significantly more salty than less juicy products, the researchers found. In addition, the largest increase in salt perception was at the lowest salt level.
Van de Velde said the technique could potentially help the food industry develop healthier, lower salt products.
The researchers noted that meat products were one of the biggest contributors to salt intake in Western diets.