Sodium showdown: How the food service industry battles salt to make America healthier
In a recent study published in the journal Advances in Nutrition, researchers in the United States explored the challenges and strategies facing the food service industry in reducing sodium content.
Most Americans consume far more sodium than is healthy, increasing their risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. About 55% of the food budget is spent on foods prepared and consumed away from home (FAFH). Restaurants, offices, college campuses, military bases, and senior centers are just some places where these meals are served. Attempts to lower sodium levels in prepared and sold foods have met several challenges. Despite these obstacles, many effective methods have been used to reduce sodium content in FAFH.
Challenges in sodium reduction in foods
A survey of almost 6,122 US adults found that while 52% of respondents preferred low sodium/salt menu selections when dining out, only 6% actually asked for them. Customers choose a restaurant most often for the deliciousness of the cuisine, whereas just 29% select a restaurant for its healthfulness. Since it has the reverse effect of increasing consumer demand, food service businesses rarely promote “healthy” or “reduced sodium” choices. Because of this, businesses frequently lower the sodium level of their products without consumer awareness. As a result, workers in the food service industry are under pressure to prepare and serve items with less sodium.
Large food service operations may have trouble finding enough low-sodium food to meet demand. Bread and bread products are a common FAFH because people eat them with all items ranging from burgers and chicken sandwiches to pizza and breakfast sandwiches, and they’re also delicious when eaten alone. The results of a number of studies demonstrate that a reduction in the sodium content could be up to without considerably affecting consumer acceptability. Therefore, this feasible adjustment would significantly contribute to lowering sodium intake. Manufacturers may be persuaded to reduce sodium in bread goods in response to such data and requests from foodservice operators for such items.