Myth: Sodium Reduction in Processed Meat Products is as Simple as Removing Salt from the Recipe
Sodium serves several roles in processed meats, most importantly food safety. Sodium helps inhibit growth of dangerous bacteria like Listeria in particular. Sodium reduction must be done carefully to ensure no undue food safety risks are created. Sodium also improves the tenderness of some cuts and helps bind together products like sausage or bologna, giving them the texture that consumers have come to expect.
Meat scientists have been working on ways to reduce sodium in meat products without impacting the safety of the product by using other ingredients, but they have to make sure those ingredients don’t also significantly change the taste or texture of the meat.
Many companies are reducing sodium in their products either with low sodium offerings highlighted on the package or by gradually reducing sodium in the products over time. In fact, half of processed meat and poultry products have had their sodium reduced in recent years. The amount of sodium in any product can be found on the nutrition facts panel, so consumers can use this as a guide when purchasing meat products.