Ajinomoto on food companies’ obligation to meet taste expectations for low-sodium foods

Ajinomoto’s Sodium Alternatives and Long-Term Solutions (SALTS) study found that consumers may understand that overconsumption of sodium will lead to health problems, but also believe it is the responsibility of food companies to find the solutions to solve the overconsumption problem, and are unwilling or unable to do so independently.

“People know that too much sodium is bad for your health at any age, but they don’t see it as a concern that affects them personally. [and] the numbers show it.”said the study researchers.

“64% of respondents said over-consumption of sodium is bad for health, and 63% said it was important to watch intake, but only 37% said they would control their own sodium intake and 34% said they would proactively search the shelves for low-sodium foods.

“Furthermore, the top three motivators for consumers to reduce their sodium intake [are all external factors]calling for products high in sodium to be removed from grocery shelves, for governments to reduce recommended sodium intake in national guidelines, and for more factual media on sodium and health to be made available.

“These three main motivators are conceptual at best. [showing that] consumers want everyone to solve the problem of sodium intake, rather than making personal changes.

Ajinomoto believes food companies will need to regain control of the situation by reducing sodium intake in product formulations, as consumers expect high sodium products to become scarce in stores so that they are not exposed to it so frequently.

“We know that salt consumption is high in Asia. There has been a general trend of decreasing intake over the past 30 years, but intake is still well above recommendations,”Manasi Deodhar, head of global communications at Ajinomoto, said FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“[In addition to this study]a recent consumer survey of our Smart Salt program in Japan also showed that 73% of consumers want to change their salt consumption habits, but 28% say they are not taking any action to do so. [and] the same goes for other parts of the world, because on average, salt intake in many developing countries is more than double the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended standard of 5g per day.

“Globally, COVID-19 has shone a light on the impact of nutrition on overall health, and that increased attention to health and especially salt reduction is leading to increased demand from food manufacturers to find solutions that reduce salt and preserve taste, to help people influence their eating habits salt.

Notably, taste was highlighted as the biggest issue facing low-sodium foods, with more than half (55%) of all consumers surveyed turning away from these products because they felt they had no taste.

“Glutamates impart umami flavor and are a promising solution for sodium reduction – umami is a staple in Asian cuisine, and Ajinomoto harnesses a variety of umami-enhancing solutions such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), monopotassium glutamate (MPG), and yeast extracts to reduce sodium in our products while maintaining great taste,”said Deodhar.

“These ingredients are also offered to other food manufacturing partners to reduce sodium in their products.”

Ajinomoto has a wide range of over 22 reduced salt products in its portfolio, spread across eight brands. These include Yasashio salt alternative in Japan which is a mixture of salt and potassium chloride, its Ros Dee seasoning and Yum Yum Sood Ded instant noodles in Thailand, its Masako seasoning in Indonesia and its Bizim chicken broth Mutfak and his ezogelin soup in Turkey.

Overcoming MSG adversities

Despite its enormous salt-reducing and salt-replacing potential, glutamates and MSG in particular have long had a bad reputation due to criticisms that it is associated with obesity, neurotoxicity, metabolic syndrome and ailments. other health problems, including headaches and asthma.

Ajinomoto maintains that these claims have never been scientifically proven and that the position of various food authorities around the world, including the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), shows that it is in fact safe for the consumption.

“MSG is made up of sodium, which is found in salt and glutamate, and is actually the predominant amino acid found in nature and synthesized by our bodies. It is also found naturally in everyday foods like mushrooms, corn, charcuterie, egg yolks and green tea,”said Deodhar.

“[We are confident] that these negative perceptions among consumers and healthcare professionals are changing in various markets, such as the United States where there has been a lot of stigma around this – over 50% of registered dietitians now say they are likely to recommend MSG to their clients. Asia is one of the markets that has used MSG the longest, over a century, so it’s nothing new here.

“If consumers can overcome the stigma surrounding MSG and understand that it is perfectly safe, then it can be used effectively as an effective sodium reduction tool and flavor enhancer.”

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