Minnesota’s meat processors are working to meet consumer desire for products made with more natural or even fewer ingredients—also known as having cleaner labels. Because excess sodium has been linked to such health concerns as hypertension, stroke and kidney disease, it is one of the ingredients health-conscious consumers target first.
“The challenge with reducing sodium in processed meat products is that it does more than just provide saltiness,” says Carissa Nath, AURI meat scientist. “Salt enhances flavors, helps extend shelf life and creates binds between proteins to hold the products together.”
Nath says meat processors are changing their formulations to meet consumer tastes by using such items as sodium replacers, flavor enhancers or by reducing the amount of salt in recipes. To do so without negatively affecting the quality or the taste of the meat product presents a challenge.
Nath and University of Minnesota Extension Meat Specialist Ryan Cox presented information on reduced sodium meat formulations at the recent Minnesota Association of Meat Processors convention. More information and alternative reduced sodium formulations will be tested at a value added meat processing seminar in August.