A News Food and Nutrition — 31 July 2014

Salty soupWe all know that too much salt is not healthy. And, we all know that the flavor of salt makes so many foods taste delicious. So, we have a dilemma.

Food manufacturers know this problem well and market to consumers the health benefits of reduced salt content, while knowing that flavor is what holds the key to a consumer’s purse.  What do they do to strike the balance?

Food manufacturers turn to companies that specialize in flavor.  (Yes, there are companies that specialize in flavor.)  These companies don’t just help make reduced salt soup taste better, they provide flavor technology for a wide variety of foods and beverages.

Salt is a mineral made up of sodium chloride (NaCL), and is classified as one of the basic human tastes. It is essential for human life and is one of the oldest food seasoning and oldest mineral used for food preservation. Salt processing dates back over 6,000 years and has been an important part of trade, commerce and health since the 5th century.

In modern times, salt has been associated with greater risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. High salt diets contribute to higher blood pressure in those with hypertension.  And these are the reasons food manufacturers want to reduce the health risks, while they satisfy the fundamental human taste sense because that results in increased sales.

Technology has been developed to trick the sense of taste for salt.  “Boosters” are designed to increase the flavor attributes of perceived salinity that approach the true levels of a full salt product.

“Our technology is based on our unique thermal processing utilizing natural salts found in beef extract and other protein sources coupled with natural extracts and derivatives,” states Trilogy Essential Ingredients, a global leader in the flavor market. “Our unique processing technology produces the boosters that provide both the desired salinity and umami effects necessary to enhance the desired saltiness in products with reduced salt,” the company’s website notes.

Reducing salt content in foods may have been one of the first ways in which consumers really began to alter their diets and gear them towards better health.  That trend kicked of massive industries of foods and beverages that are designed specifically for health.  A good example is the vitamin drink market, which doubled between 2004 and 2009.

Vitamin waters are low calorie drinks that are infused with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, which serve to improve overall health and well-being.  But, to make these drinks palatable to the global consumer, they need flavor!

The popular Glaceau-brand, Vitaminwater, has 17 different flavors and concoctions of healthy drinks.  The flavors include the expected, like lemonade, to the strange, like Dragon fruit.

While most consumers pay little attention to the flavors of their food because they have certain expectations for taste and health, they don’t have to because companies that specialize in flavoring food and beverages make food and drinks taste so good, consumers don’t have to.

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