Clean-label salt enhancer could help slash sodium by 35% and counter bitterness of KCl

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Salty-R is suitable for a range of applications including isotonic sports drinks
Salty-R is suitable for a range of applications including isotonic sports drinks
A new salt enhancer claimed to help food manufacturers slash salt by 25- 35% without breaking the bank or compromising their clean-labels will be unveiled at the SupplySide West show in Las Vegas next week.

Salty-R is the first product to emerge from Horphag Research Nutrition, a new division set up last month by Horphag Research, the makers of antioxidant powerhouse Pycnogenol.

Headed up by former Firmenich executives Markus Beba and David Johnston, Switzerland-based Horphag Research Nutrition is on a mission to turn Pycnogenol - a potent antioxidant from the bark of the maritime pine tree – into the next big thing in functional foods and drinks, but also has a remit to explore a host of other nutritional ingredients.

Clean label, no yeast extract, no HVPs

Currently, most salt taste enhancers are based on autolysed yeast extracts or hydrolysed vegetable proteins (HVPs), which do not always deliver and can be unpopular on ingredients declarations, claimed the firm.

Meanwhile, ingredients able to replicate some of the functionality as well as taste of salt also had drawbacks, it argued. “Potassium chloride or sea salt high in potassium are popular choices... However potassium, while providing a similar salty perception is unfortunately accompanied by a metallic or bitter off taste.”

By contrast, Salty-R, developed through an exclusive partnership with an undisclosed US-based biotech company, can be “globally labeled as a natural flavor​” and is from an (unnamed) vegetable source. It is also non-allergenic and contains no yeast extract or HVPs, said the firm.

Works synergistically with potassium chloride

Consumer testing in France had also shown Salty-R could enhance flavor intensity as well as saltiness, while it also appeared to work synergistically with potassium chloride, enhancing its saltiness, but reducing the metallic off notes, it added.

“The product has also been tested with excellent results in a plethora of food applications including snacks, ready meals, soups and sauces, dressings and may also improve the taste of isotonic beverages​.”

The sodium reduction challenge

According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, "virtually all Americans consume more sodium than they need”.

The guidelines state: “An immediate, deliberate reduction in the sodium content of foods in the marketplace is necessary to allow consumers to reduce sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg, or 1,500 mg per day​ [for those aged 51+, all African Americans, plus anyone with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease] now.”

​Industry has been quick to respond, with several leading US food manufacturers recently joining the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI), which aims to cut salt in retail and foodservice across the US by 25% in five years.

However, a recent poll​ conducted by FoodNavigator-USA revealed many manufacturers do not necessarily feel that sodium reduction is something to shout about on pack, with many choosing to cut salt or other unwanted ingredients by 'stealth'.

Recent consumer research​ conducted by the International Food Information Council also suggests that more work needs to be done to educate consumers about sodium targets, given that most Americans still don’t know how much sodium they should eat, or how much they actually do eat.

A surprisingly high percentage (59%) also claim to be unconcerned about their sodium intake.

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