By influencing the juiciness of processed meat products, a salt reduction of 15% or more can be achieved while retaining the same salt perception. Researchers of NIZO, in the frame work of the Top Institute Food and Nutrition, have tested this in sausages that varied in salt level and serum release but not in firmness.
Meat products are in the top three of product categories that contribute to the high salt intake in the modern western diet. Within the Top Institute Food and Nutrition, experts at NIZO food research have developed a strategy for salt reduction in processed meat products that targets the maximization of perception of the available salt in the food product.
By changing the structure, but not the firmness, of sausages, the amount of serum that can be released could be modulated. A trained QDA (Quantitative Descriptive Analysis) panel rated the saltiness, firmness and juiciness of sausages with a low and high serum release at three salt levels. The sensorial scores for saltiness showed that sausages with a high serum release were perceived significantly saltier that those with little serum release. Sausages with a high serum release were perceived more juicy than those with a low serum release. The perceived juiciness is the result of the amount of serum that is pushed out of the meat matrix while chewing and the ability of the tissue to bind water, which is affected by the salt content. The observed increase in salt perception, as a result of increased juiciness, was largest at the lowest salt level.
Senior scientist and project manager Fred van de Velde is convinced that this strategy will help industry to develop healthier foods. “We have already developed innovative clean label solutions for the reduction of salt in bread, cheese and meat while retaining a good taste. These include natural salt enhancers, enhancement through inhomogeneous distribution, and recently the enhancement by serum release. With this technology a salt reduction of at least 15% and possibly 40% can be achieved.”