The launch reflects increasing concerns about excess salt intake in many developed nations, where sodium is linked to higher blood pressure, which can result in strokes or heart attacks. Current UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend that consumers reduce salt intakes levels from an average of 8.5g per day, to a maximum of 6g for adults and 3g for children by 2015.
Problems are also acute in the US, where the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that average sodium consumption levels run at 3,436mg (almost 8g of salt) per day, well above the RDA level of 2,300mg, while it is expected that the forthcoming revision of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans will see this figure reduced to 1,500mg.
With almost 80% of US national intake coming from processed and restaurant food, the New York City co-ordinated National Salt Reduction Initiative aims to help food producers lower salt levels 20% by 2014.
Can cut sodium levels by 25-50%
Sold as a milk-based powdered ingredient, DairiConcepts claims Ascentra can be used to cut sodium levels by 25-50% in a “broad range of food systems” while it also enhances flavour by boosting “salt perception, savoury nuances and umami effects”.
Created using a proprietary milk-based fermentation process, Missouri-based DairiConcepts said it had spent five years developing EU-certified and kosher versions of its base product, which uses either maltodextrin or non-fat dried milk as a carrier.
“Ascentra does not contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolised vegetable protein (HVP) or yeast extract, so consumer foods made with the ingredients can be produced with a clean label and ‘reduced sodium’ and/or ‘gluten free’ declarations,” said DairiConcepts.
Jeff Miyake, president, DairyConcepts, said: “Our sodium-reducing flavour enhancers are made from real dairy ingredients and contain no preservatives. This is an important factor for manufacturers targettingn increasingly health conscious and knowledgeable consumers who scrutinise food labels and are loyal to healthy food brands.”
Cuts out ‘metallic’ flavour notes
Application areas for Ascentra are said to be wide-ranging, where levels “as low as 0.5% have been used to reduce salt and remove MSG from soups and snack food, create mouth-watering crackers and boost meat, cheese and vegetable flavours of meal kits, sauces and dips.”
DairConcepts also claims that in-house taste tests resulted in panellists describing Ascentra applications as “more wholesome and balanced” than those using yeast extracts, with a “more rounded flavour” when compared with all-salt formulations.
According to the firm, Ascentra also cuts out the acrid quality associated with potassium chloride as a salt replacer, which leads many producers to use masking agents to hide its taste: “Although rich in potassium, Ascentra does not contain potassium chloride, thus eliminating the possibility of metallic flavour notes.”