Reducing Sodium in Meat Products

The multiple sources that may contribute sodium to meat products can be difficult to functionally replace.

It is key for developers who have a goal of creating food products with decreased sodium content to factor all the sources of sodium along with their functions.[1] The multiple possible sources of sodium include salt itself,[2] protein extraction agents like sodium phosphate, flavoring agents and other spices and flavorings (e.g., celery powder). Often, ingredients that provide sodium also have an influence in achieving the end-goal product whether it be from a food safety, texture or flavor perspective.[3]

Altering any of these influential sodium-containing ingredients in a product formula could have significant impact on the finished product; changes require a high level of scrutiny so that the finished product remains on par.[4]

Sodium still plays many important roles in the production of meat products, and is key to aiding food safety by inhibiting growth of harmful bacteria[5] and increasing shelf life.[6] Sodium also enhances taste, provides the texture that is familiar to consumers,[7] and increases product yield.[8] Because sodium is an important ingredient, reducing it in processed meats can be challenging.[9]

According to an article published in Food Technology Magazine written by Cargill Food Scientist Janice Johnson, “The addition of salt in meat products increases the ionic strength to help extract and solubilize meat proteins. The salt-soluble proteins are important for their water retention, fat and meat binding, and heat-set gelatinization properties that lead to increased product yield and textural sensory attributes.[10]

Cost is also a consideration when contemplating the reduction of sodium in meat products.[11] Manufacturers must consider the price of ingredients and replacement ratios, as often non-salt ingredients cost more than salt.[12]

Many factors must be considered when working towards decreasing sodium in meat. Other goals include maintaining yield, food safety and cost. Thorough sensory and shelf-life testing is required. Additional ingredients might be needed to replace the overall functionality that may be lost as a result of removing sodium.

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[1] Johnson, Janice. “Challenges of Formulating Products to Meet Desired Sodium Targets.” Food Technology Magazine. 1 Jun 2011: 48. Print.

[2] Johnson, Janice.

[3] Johnson, Janice.

[4] Johnson, Janice.

[5] Cargill Salt. “Sodium is Top of Mind for Consumer Meat Purchases.” Food Processing InPerspective. Accessed on 27 May 2017. Retrieved from

[6] Johnson, Janice.

[7] Cargill Salt.

[8] Johnson, Janice.

[9] Cargill Salt.

[10] Johnson, Janice.

[11] Johnson, Janice.

[12] Johnson, Janice.