PepsiCo is experimenting with a ‘designer salt’.
It’s shape is tailored to maximize the amount of salt perceived by the tongue while reducing the actual amount of sodium ingested. It’s a move by PepsiCo to respond to increasing pressures to make processed foods healthier, as most of the sodium consumed is from processed foods.
Eating too much sodium can cause high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for developing other types of coronary and heart diseases.
What is the designer salt like?
Typically only about 20% of the salt on a chip actually dissolves on the tongue before the chip is chewed and swallowed while the rest is swallowed and never tasted.
The key to reducing salt in the product is to exploit this fact. Maybe a different shape of salt granulate could maximize the amount of salt absorbed by the tongue.
The result from their research was a “powdery ingredient” that tastes like regular salt. Groups of consumers couldn’t tell the difference when comparing the two salts on chips.
Sounds pretty good, but the question remains: Is it salt, or is it some top-secret bastardized version of salt?
Not surprisingly, they are not giving away too much information about the powdery ingredient.
People eat potato chips and other junk food because they taste good, not because they are healthy. End of story.
The company said that its goal is to reduce the average sodium per serving by 25 % by the year 2015, but cutting salt out of foods is difficult because it is a flavor enhancer. If less salt is used, the product may not taste the same and consumers may switch to a different product, so it is a risky endeavor for a business.
With something like potato chips, there is nothing like seasoning to cover up the lack of salt, so it can’t just be blindly reduced.
They have put a lot of research and money into this new salt, collaborating with about a dozen universities in the US and UK to come up with the perfect solution, but it may take as long as two years before you see the new designer salt on the shelves.
What do you guys think about designer salt?
Source: Wall Street Journal
Photo credit: Lars K. Jensen via Flickr Creative Commons