Reducing Sodium in Bakery Products

Most people don’t realize that bread and rolls are the number 1 source of sodium in the American diet. Accounting for twice as much sodium as snacks like potato chips and pretzels! Of the top 10 sources of sodium, salty snacks actually come in at the bottom of the list.
Breads and rolls aren’t any saltier than many other foods. The problem with sodium arises because people tend to eat more of them.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention were amazed to find out that just 10 foods were responsible for 44 % of the sodium consumed in the US.
Breads and rolls accounted for 7% of their sodium intake and then came cured meat and cold cuts. Third on the list is pizza then processed poultry followed by soups, hamburgers and then sandwiches with cheese. Rounding out the top 10 list at 3% of sodium contributing to the American diet are pasta dishes, then other meat dishes like meatloaf and finally salty snacks like potato chips.
Health officials say we shouldn’t eat more than 2,300 mgs of sodium a day. But average sodium consumption in the US is around 3,300 mgs. They found that only 10% of Americans meet this guide line.
Salt reduction has become a primary focus of public health campaigns, and school lunch programs nationwide. School feeding programs are going to need to reduce sodium in their breakfast and lunches by 25% to 50% to meet the new USDA nutritional standards.
Most major food manufactures and processors are looking at or already taken steps to gradually reduce sodium in their products. The American Bakers Association is aware of this trend for reducing sodium in bakery products.
For their part the trying to get their members to reduce the sodium content of their breads from a baseline of 485 mg per 100 grams to 440 mgs this year and to 360 mgs by 2014.
Reduction of sodium in breads is a complicated, technical task that must be handled carefully so that customers will embrace any formulation changes.
Most bread dough’s contain between 1.5% and 2% salt by flour weight and is needed to control the rate of fermentation as well as prevent the dough from getting too sticky and thus less machineable. In terms of bread quality the role of salt is very important in a breads palatability and contributes in enhancing crust color, crust structure as well as preventing excessive yeast action and inhibition of acid producing bacteria in the dough.
The reduction of sodium in bakery products is going to take time and much effort on the industries part to reformulate their products, and the consumer may have to eat breads that have reduced palatability. This especially holds true in the new whole grain breads that are currently being marketed and coming to market.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention would like to see all of us eat more fruits and vegetables and have stopped short of advising people not to eat bread. They are encouraging consumers to read the label and purchase breads that have lower sodium levels. The other alternative is to “eat smaller portions”.