Ohly: How Food Manufacturers Can Reduce Use Of Sodium

Daria Pashkova, Product and Marketing Specialist at Ohly
Daria Pashkova, product specialist at Ohly shares how food manufacturers can reduce sodium use, which currently causes 1.89 million deaths per year

According to new research, approximately 1.89 million deaths each year are associated with consuming too much sodium. The global average salt intake is estimated at a staggering 10.8g a day, rather than the 5g recommended by the World Health Organisation.

In her role as Product and Marketing Specialist at Ohly, Daria Pashkova is exploring how the food manufacturing industry can reduce salt usage in food processing

Ohly is a leading provider of specialty yeast-based ingredients for sodium reduction founded in 1854 as a yeast extract producer in Hamburg, Germany.

Ohly is recognized as a leader in yeast-based specialty ingredients, with a reputation for quality, innovation, and reliability in the markets they serve.

Its product portfolio includes yeast extract, yeast-based flavours, and specialty powders, which are used to enhance taste, flavour, and nutrition in a wide range of applications. Operating multiple production facilities across the globe  Ohly's products are used in a wide range of applications, including soups, sauces, snacks, meat products, plant-based alternatives, pet food, aquafeed, and livestock feed.


Why is salt reduction in food important?

As well as being a dietary necessity, salt has given us the priceless ability to preserve food. 

However, consuming too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure. It also results in stiff or narrow arteries, where fatty material can build up. As consumers become more aware of these risks, they are actively seeking out and choosing foods with lower salt content. 

According to a WHO report 'Global report on sodium intake reduction' released last year the world is off track to achieve its global target of reducing sodium intake by 30% by 2025, with only 5% of WHO member states protected by mandatory and comprehensive sodium reduction policies. 

Strategies for reducing the use of salt in food production

Introducing a gradual salt reduction timeline

It can be difficult to reduce the amount of sodium in products suddenly due to consumers’ familiarity with the taste of an original recipe. However, utilising a timeline approach and gradually reducing the amount of salt used in key products will enable consumers to adjust slowly to less salt, without perceiving a noticeable difference in taste or texture.

Utilising natural flavour solutions 

Herbs and spices have the potential to add flavour, depth and complexity to products, whilst enhancing taste without the need for excessive sodium application. If used skillfully, with a bit of experimentation, these natural flavour enhancers can be hugely beneficial to food manufacturers seeking to reduce the amount of salt in their products.

Aligned with the growing demand for clean-label and health-conscious foods, culinary powders derived from natural sources also offer a convenient solution to deliver concentrated vinegar, mustard or fruit flavours.

Using yeast extract to reduce the need for salt 

Certain yeast extracts will reduce the need for salt by bringing out a natural savoury taste in foods. They are naturally rich in glutamic acid and nucleotides, which boost umami and savoury flavours.

When yeast extracts are added to food, their glutamic acid content interacts with specific taste receptors on the tongue known as umami receptors or T1R1/T1R3 taste receptors. This interaction enhances the overall umami taste perception in the dish, reducing the need for salt. 

However, it’s important to identify the right yeast extract product for the right task. Torula and baker’s yeast extracts are widely used to meet various taste challenges faced by manufacturers. Some will serve to highlight the existing flavour profile of food, while others are great for masking off-notes, increasing salinity or boosting umami when reducing salt content.

Innovations in technology and flavour methods

As technological advancements continue to evolve, new opportunities for enhancing flavours and reducing salt content in food without compromising on taste, are becoming increasingly common practices. 

Methods such as fermentation, enzymatic reactions, and the incorporation of unique flavour compounds provide food producers with the ability to explore different methods of salt reduction throughout their processes.

Anything else to say to food manufacturers about their sodium use?

The importance of salt reduction within the food industry cannot be overstated. We know that excessive salt intake has been associated with several preventable health issues. As consumers become increasingly conscious of this, they are seeking out healthier food options. 

We have seen a rise in food manufacturers responding to this change in consumer behaviour by exploring ways to reduce sodium levels in their food formulations. The use of yeast-based ingredients not only aligns with salt reduction goals but also with those wishing to have clean-label formulations with natural ingredients.

Consumers are demanding transparency - they want to know what’s in the food they’re putting in their bodies. And yeast-based ingredients offer an excellent solution to meeting their needs.

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