Take out sodium, but keep bakery formulas working properly? That’s the challenge presented by the latest calls for reducing the already-too-high sodium content of American diets. Whether it’s the 25% cut called for by the National Salt Initiative or the gradual approach advised by the Institute of Medicine, processors are under increasing pressure to dial down the sodium content of processed foods — and that includes grain-based foods.

   While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken no action yet concerning sodium, it continues to monitor the situation. “Also, it’s likely that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will go with a limit of 1,500 mg per day on sodium intake for the 2010 guidelines, replacing the current 2,300 mg,” said Barbara B. Heidolph, principal, technical service, ICL Performance Products LP, St. Louis, MO.

   While a 15 to 25% cut in sodium may seem modest, it hits bakery formulations where they are most vulnerable: in the functional aspects. “Sodium reduction will be a tough challenge for bakers because they have used salt so successfully,” observed EB Russell, technical manager, food ingredients, Budenheim USA, Columbus, OH. “They may not be ready to make the change. It’s difficult when you’ve been taught that something is important to controlling fermentation