Reducing sodium is a ‘difficult’ task, KHNI warns, amid industry calls for action

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June 22, 2022 — The Kerry Health and Nutrition Institute (KHNI) highlights the health priority of governments to reduce sodium intake worldwide to combat the leading cause of high blood pressure, leading to strokes and strokes. heart disease – accounting for the highest death rate in the world.

Consumers are becoming more health conscious, which is driving demand for healthier products. The World Health Organization (WHO) also advises governments on which initiatives to follow. However, industry engagement is needed to make a meaningful difference in the process.

“Reducing sodium can be very difficult. There is no silver bullet, no single solution that can be applied to various products and applications. Salinity is sensed through the ion channel which responds to sodium. This sodium channel is unique. Therefore, it is unlikely that any substance can completely replace sodium,” comments the KHNI.

“In addition to the salty taste, salt is a highly functional ingredient, so there is a need for a combination of solutions to address sodium reduction. Salt is an effective and clean preservative. It binds water and inhibits microbial growth. This water-holding ability also lends itself to a more luscious product.

Sodium in Common FoodsIn the United States, sandwiches are the biggest contributor of sodium according to KHNI.
Processed foods represent the highest sodium intake, and foods taken away or eaten away from home. Globally, a significant amount of sodium comes from bread, processed meats, dairy products and other foods.

The WHO advises a daily salt intake of a maximum of 5 g of salt (2 g of sodium). However, the global average daily consumption is between 9 and 12 g of salt, according to WHO data.

Heart disease and stroke are among the leading causes of death. Both are made worse by high blood pressure, which is often caused by high sodium intake. In the UK, voluntary salt reduction was implemented in the early 2000s, which saved 9,000 lives.

In South Africa, a mandatory salt reduction program was implemented, resulting in a significant decrease in salt intake over a five-year period.

What is done?
Countries around the world are tackling the sodium threat in different ways. Implementing taxation and voluntary reduction initiatives are common approaches.

For the increase in taxes, the objective is to make more expensive the products not necessary for public health. Mexico is an example of an 8% tax on “non-essential” high-calorie foods.

Thailand has taken a similar approach, with plans to introduce a tax on salted products. However, it was put on hold as the economy needed time to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Philippines Department of Health has also proposed a higher tax. However, lawmakers rejected this due to a lack of interest.

Reducing salt has been called a key public health strategy in the UK. The organizations are pushing for additional salt taxes, which were recently rejected as the government does not want to raise food prices during ongoing inflation.

Front-of-package labeling has also been introduced, including warning labels on the front of product packaging to ensure consumers are informed. Latin American countries are the “leaders” of this approach. Labels indicate whether products contain high levels of salt, sugar, fat or energy.

Industry must interveneThe industry is continually innovating ways to reduce sodium, but there is still “some way to go”.
For the industry, continuous innovation is taking place in the field. According to the KHNI, commonly used methods are stealth reduction, mineral salts — such as replacing sodium with potassium chloride — and yeast extracts.

Another standard method is “alternating the shape of salt crystals”. The main effect of this approach is to dissolve salt crystals in the mouth.

“It involves changing the size and shape of the salt crystals to create a saltier perception when tasted. Smaller salt crystal size increases adhesion capabilities, and hydrophobicity is the main attribute related to increased salinity perception,” notes KHNI.

Although industry and governments around the world have shown progress in reducing sodium, the KHNI stresses that “there is still a long way to go”. Sodium intake levels are still far too high compared to WHO recommendations, and blood pressure-related diseases are still the highest killers in the world.

Edited by Béatrice Wihlander

This feature is provided by FoodIngredientsFirstsister site of, NutritionInsight.

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