Companies making canned goods, sauces and other foods are continuing to work very hard to reduce the salt content of their products across the world.
The reason is that it has long been recognised that reducing the salt we consume daily reduces the likelihood of heart related diseases and problems.
Salt is used in foods to not only contribute to the flavour but impacts on texture and food safety as well. Most bacteria do not like to grow in salt and so foods like salted meats and fish will be safe for consumption even if not refrigerated. So reducing the salt in many foods has significant potential problems in maintaining food safety and product integrity.
The other big problem that manufacturers are facing in this salt reduction is maintaining the flavour and texture of their product so they do not lose sales because of unhappy customers.
However a recent study based on self reporting by older adults, raises the question whether it really is necessary for the salt level to be reduced for foods for all age groups.
The current recommendation for maximum salt consumption daily is less than 6g, and for older folk specifically, a level of less than 1500mg of sodium each day.
This level of sodium may actually be difficult to achieve it is believed because of long held dietary habits in those over 50, so this study may be of great interest.
The new study has attracted criticism on it’s method and not having a representative sample covering all the health and other issues associated with the older age group.
The study involved researchers from Emory University in Atlanta examining the food frequency questionnaires that the sample group of 2642 people had completed over 10 years. The results are therefore based on the answers that people have given over the time of the questionnaires.
The study suggest that reducing salt intake in those in the 71 – 80 years age group makes little difference in the prevention of cardiovascular or heart disease or issues. The research was published on line by JAMA Internal Medicine on19 January 2015.
The researchers wrote “In conclusion, we observed that sodium intake estimated by FFQ [food frequency questionnaire] was not associated with mortality or risk for CVD and HF in a cohort of adults 71 to 80 years old.
Our data emphasise the need for stronger evidence, preferably from rigorous controlled trials testing additional thresholds for sodium intake, before applying a policy of further sodium restriction to older adults beyond the current recommendation for the general adult population (2,300 mg/d).”
Obviously further study will be required to determine if there is a need to change the recommendations for older folk.
Written by Rachelle Williams, The Green Food Safety Coach.