Welcome to this learning resource on Low salt pig-meat products and novel formulations. In this resource we will be examining:
- The effects of dietary salt on human health
- The reasons for including salt in processed meat products
- The benefits and complications of reducing the salt content of pig-meat products
- Some ways in which salt content of manufactured meats can be reduced without compromising product quality
Sodium is necessary for normal body function and without it we would have health problems. Yet, the amount needed for health could easily be covered by the sodium content which is present in fresh foods. However, fresh foods do not last long, and salt (sodium chloride) has been used, since early times, as a preservative, especially for meat, through its bacteriostatic actions. In addition, salt can improve physical properties during processing and organoleptic properties in the final product, and has now become an essential ingredient in many processed foods. It is processed foods which contain high salt concentrations and as will be seen this applies to pig meat products as well as other sectors of the food industry.
Scientific evidence suggests that there are health hazards associated with excessive salt consumption. As a result the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended a limit of 5g sodium per day. Consequently, the medical profession and the press have put massive pressure into reducing salt in processed products. The main reason for reducing salt intake is to prolong a healthy life. The approach that is used to achieve this differs between countries.
In many processed meat products, lowering the salt concentration can have negative effects on the final product (e.g. physical properties and shelf life). In addition, there are commercial advantages, such as enhanced water uptake, when adding salt during processing. For these reasons, some companies in the processed food sector are hesitant about reducing the amount of salt in their products.