When switching your game plan to put lower-sodium ingredients into action, you need to understand the rules of sodium functionality in baked foods. In an exclusive Q&A, Janice Johnson, technical leader at Cargill Salt, Minneapolis, MN, outlines the positions sodium plays and how to find hidden sodium savings.

Baking & Snack: What is the best approach you recommend to bakers do to cut the sodium content of the foods they offer consumers? Why?

Janice Johnson: When changing the sodium content in baked goods, a manufacturer should:

  • Consider their targeted sodium level to help them choose the appropriate solution
  • Determine the source of sodium (e.g. salt, leavening agents)
  • Understand the functional role of the sodium containing ingredients (e.g. taste, leavening)
  • Assess alternative non-sodium (or lower containing) alternatives for desired functionality.
  • Sensory-evaluate solutions to ensure success in the marketplace
  • Reduce sodium containing ingredients — may work for lower sodium reduction levels
  • For higher sodium reduction that impact functionality (e.g. taste, protein modification):
    • Alternative salt solutions for protein modification, microbial management functional roles of salt: Premier potassium chloride, SaltWise sodium reduction system, FlakeSelect
    • Taste functionality: flavors, herb and spices, autolyzed yeast extracts.

 What changes in bakery formulation will this change require? What advice do you give your customers who are considering such alterations?

Determine all the sources of sodium. Sometimes it is more than just salt contributing to the sodium level. A customer must:

  • Understand the functional role of the sodium containing ingredients (e.g. taste, leavening)
  • Assess alternative non-sodium (or lower containing) alternatives for desired functionality

Depending on which sodium containing ingredient is lowered, removed or replaced, the customer may have to alter processing conditions — either with time or operating conditions — to compensate for changes in production.

For topical applications, Alberger brand can provide a burst of salty taste due to the unique physical shape of the salt crystal, which leads to a quick dissolution during the eating experience.

Can you point to successful sodium reduction projects?

It is important to understand the source and functional role of sodium containing ingredients in order to successfully produce a lower sodium product. In general, non-sodium versions of ingredients do not behave exactly the same as their sodium counterparts. Therefore when considering removal or partial replacement, it is ideal to decrease the level of the sodium ingredient such that it does not impact the functional role too significantly. In the case of leavened baked products, e.g. tortilla, reduced sodium success at levels greater than 50% was achieved by using alternative sodium ingredients including potassium chloride and potassium versions of leavening agents. By taking this approach, the brunt of sodium reduction was not put on any one ingredient, thereby not compromising taste or functionality.

What products does your company offer to help bakers reduce the amount of sodium in their bread and rolls?

  • Premier potassium chloride
  • SaltWise sodium reduction system
  • FlakeSelect
  • Topical applications, Alberger brand salt products dissolve quickly and provide a salty burst of flavor.