Salt is widely used in meat processing as a flavour enhancer and as a functional ingredient. Most processed meat products contain between one to three percent of salt, and many also use monosodium glutamate (MSG), yeast extracts, hydrolysed vegetable proteins, nucleotides etc. as flavour enhancers. While effective, most of them—especially MSG—have a negative consumer connotation.
The vast majority of added salt comes from processed foods. Some regulatory agencies have imposed increased regulations on salt content in foods to benefit public health through reduced salt intake.
Salt of the Earth Limited, a manufacturer of sustainable sea salt, has developed an ingredient that creates tasty meat products with less sodium. The company collaborated with Israeli meat companies to meet sodium-reduction regulations in several types of meat products. Mediterranean Umami is a clean label ingredient that reduces sodium content by 25 to 33 percent or more.
"The food industry is under significant pressure to reformulate products to reduce sodium content," said David Hart, business unit director at Salt of the Earth. "Mediterranean Umami is highly relevant to the meat industry—an 'on-trend' solution that allows for significant sodium reduction, while being clean label and natural."
The company’s collaboration with the meat companies demonstrated that the reduction in sodium can be achieved across a variety of meat products—including frankfurters, sausages and injected chicken pastrami. In addition, the ingredient was able to eliminate the use of MSG and/or yeast extracts in meat products, while keeping the desired texture. External tasting panels confirmed that the products with reduced sodium containing Mediterranean Umami were preferred by consumers.
Formulating meat products with the ingredient will help manufacturers meet the demand for reduced sodium and clean label ingredients. It is a blend of vegetable concentrates and extracts—with natural sea salt high in umami flavour compounds. It helps enhance flavour and give products a better taste as well as reducing the use of salt.