Can seaweed become the ultimate salt replacer – and why hasn't it yet?
Taking to Food Navigator at Food Matters Live 2014 in London, Dr Craig Rose from Seaweed Health Foundation, said: “There has been a lot of interesting discussion on this. Seaweed ticks so many boxes the market is crying out for, yet why hasn’t it taken off?”
Rose believes there are two main reasons for it, the first being lack of supply of the diverse seaweed seeds that are available.
“But I think the main one is that there is some sort of uncertainty especially as the food industry is fairly conservative and wary of these sorts of weird, new, wonderful products and it’s taking them time to really latch on to it,” he said.
Not for everyone?
Seaweed is already used by companies such as Eat Balance and Batchelors in their salt-reduction efforts. It is usually done on a fifty-fifty basis, replacing half of the salt in a product.
“It’s very versatile; it’s used in bread, baked goods, ready meals etc. Whilst it’s not exactly like sodium chloride it adds a lot of flavour to food and also it’s been shown to extend shelf life, which is what salt is often used for. It’s multifunctional even just in salt replacement,” said Rose.
On top of that seaweed is much lower in sodium (3-3.5%) compared to about 46% in sodium chloride. And that is what the companies are trying to reduce in their salt-replacement efforts. So where is the ‘but’?
“It won’t replace all salt because it’s not soluble, which for some applications salt needs to be; it’s green, so if it’s a clear product it’s not necessarily applicable. So there are things that you would have to compromise on or it just won’t be suitable,” Rose said.
“But for many applications it’s very good and the signs are actually very positive that it will go very big very soon,” he added.
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