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Spicetec provides solutions for formulating these healthier snacks. "One is seasoning blends," explains D'Auria. "We try to work within the parameters of cost. Also, most formulators using seasoning blends today already have a sodium level in mind. Years ago, they just wanted everything to taste good."
D'Auria says flavor enhancers or yeast extracts can be used. But "One size does not fit all," he points out. "You may use a sodium solution that will enhance the tomato in the barbecue flavor [but not] a dairy note in sour cream and onion. It's all trial and error, so most of our sodium solutions are custom blends. If we had a one size fits all, it would make the job easy."
Speaking of easier solutions, he says you can increase the flavor of the blend. "If you have a barbecue chip and want to decrease the salt, you can increase the tomato or smoke note so you don't taste the reduction in salt," he says.
But seasonings are not a panacea. "When seasoning mix is applied to snacks, particularly in topical application after baking and/or frying, the key is interactions between spices and seasonings with salt or salt substitutes," explains Sam Rao, vice president and chief innovation officer for Nu-Tek Food Science (www.nu-teksalt.com), Minnetonka, Minn. "In this instance, any salt or salt substitute has to have significant surface area to get maximum dispersability in the mix and the opportunity to contact the taste buds."
Especially in baked goods, not all sodium comes from salt. "The other primary sources of sodium would be the leavening system, the sodium bicarbonate and leavening acids," says Barbara Heidolph, principal-marketing technical service for ICL Performance Products LP (www.icl-perfproductslp.com), St. Louis. "They may account for up to 50 percent of the sodium, most of which comes from the sodium bicarbonate. The only leavening acid of significant concern would be sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP), which consists of approximately 21 percent sodium."
ICL has a solution that not only reduces sodium but contributes other important micronutrients.
"The Levona family of zero sodium leavening agents allows the formulator to remove SAPP and achieve as much as a 25 percent reduction in sodium," she says. "There are four grades of zero-sodium Levona calcium acid pyrophosphate. [They] provide the formulator with a choice in timing as to when the leavening gases are released. Levona Opus is very slow, Levona Mezzo is slow, Levona Brio is moderate in reactivity and Levona Allegro is fast in reaction rate. And Levona provides sufficient calcium to allow for a claim in most applications."
Potassium chloride improves
Potassium chloride has been a widely used solution, although the material poses its own problems with a sometimes bitter, metallic aftertaste.
At the IFT Food Expo in June, Cargill introduced SodiumSense, an "enhanced potassium chloride" salt replacer. The modified crystal structure improves the taste impact in products such as sauces, cheese, processed meats, prepared meals, salted snacks, soups, and baked goods. Application-specific blends of the SodiumSense system allow formulators to reduce sodium by up to 50 percent.
SodiumSense brings to 20 the products in the Cargill sodium-reduction portfolio.
"Our FlakeSelect products provide potassium chloride and/or potassium chloride and sodium chloride agglomerations with lower bulk density that work well for topical solutions and seasoning blends, as well as many other applications," says Van Norden.
KaliSel is a "highly purified" potassium chloride solution from K+S Kali GmbH (www.kali-gmbh.com).
Nu-Tek Salt (www.nu-teksalt.com), Minnetonka, Minn., has a patented process that provides a better tasting potassium chloride, the company claims. Nu-Tek Potassium Chloride (NPC) tastes and functions like salt, allows for 1-to-1 replacement for sodium chloride and facilitates up to 50 percent reduction of sodium content in the finished product.
Replacing salt with … salt
Dr. Paul Lohmann Inc. (www.lohmann-chemikalien.de), Islandia, N.Y., takes a different approach, mixing various mineral salts to come up with lower-sodium salt products. Under the LomaSalt brand, the mixtures contain less sodium than regular table salt – starting from a reduction of 50 percent up to a 100 percent sodium-free product.
LomaSalt RS 50 Classic contains 20 percent sodium but maintains a typical salty taste and the easy handling of table salt. There are several other variants culminating in LomaSalt RS 100, a sodium-free blend composed entirely of mineral salts with a minimized off-taste and contains no flavor enhancers.
LomaSalt RS 50 Extra, a relatively new product, is 50 percent sodium reduced and is particularly suitable for bread, pastries or ready-to-use baking mixtures.
Cargill has a number of specialty salts. "Alberger has a unique crystal shape that provides maximum flavor burst and allows manufacturers to achieve sodium reduction while having no change in their ingredient statement," says Van Norden. "Specialty salts can be used to achieve an incremental reduction in sodium."
ICL provides Salona, a natural low-sodium sea salt derived from the Dead Sea in Israel. Sea salts generally reflect the mineral content of the water from which they are derived, Heidolph points out. "Most sea salts are a high-purity sodium chloride and contribute about 3,900mg of sodium per 100g of salt. Salona has only 170mg of sodium per 100g."
She points out Salona also has the minerals magnesium and potassium – "essential nutrients known to be deficient in the U.S. diet." says Heidolph. It also helps maintain target water activity — another key function that can help formulators.
"Not only does Salona allow for reduction in sodium, but the flavor profile also has been shown to provide a better balance and deliver greater saltiness and minimal bitterness compared to other salt replacers. This comes from the presence of the three mineral salts — sodium chloride, potassium chloride and magnesium chloride," says Heidolph.
"Sensory evaluations have been conducted with a trained panel to characterize the flavor of reduced sodium foods where 25 to 50 percent of the sodium chloride has been replaced with Salona. Results indicate minimal bitterness while delivering target saltiness. These applications include using Salona as a topical replacement for salt, which is a key use of salt in many snack foods, and is one that can be difficult to replace."
Spicetec has patented Small Particle Salt, which is ground very fine and can be spread out more across the product. "We've seen success in topicals with 15-25 percent salt reduction without noticing the difference," D'Auria explains.
In addition to its potassium chloride solution, Nu-Tek offers blends with sea salt and blends with regular salt.