Limagrain promotes salt-free snack pellet breakthrough

By Anthony Fletcher in Frankfurt

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Flavor Salt

French firm Limagrain Cereales Ingredients was at the HIE show in
Frankfurt to promote its patented method of making salt-free snacks

The company believes that the innovation could help food manufacturers cut out salt from their products, in response to both consumer demand and legislative pressure.

The breakthrough has now been commercialised, and two different products in the range Quadritos No Salt and Frit No Salt are now on the market.

"Snack manufacturers normally use pellets that are around two per cent salt,"​ David Pearson, Limagrain's marketing director told FoodNavigator.

"We've progressed towards 0 per cent. This means that the only salt added is from the flavouring used."

In other words, snack manufacturers have much greater latitude in meeting salt-reduction targets.

Snack manufacturers certainly know all about this. The industry has been demonised by the health lobby as an irresponsible sector, and has been under intense scrutiny for delivering products with high salt, fat and sugar content.

It has been the chief target in legislative drives to lower salt consumption.

And clearly, all food makers want to avoid strict legislation.

"Better regulation, including industry self-regulation, can deliver benefits to European consumers faster and create more jobs and growth than old-style outright regulation,"​ was the message of CIAA president Jean Martin at the association's recent Congress in Brussels.

Many snack companies have therefore made an effort to show that it can act responsibly, and there have been a number of voluntary product reformulations to lower salt in food.

"We're giving snack manufacturers the opportunity to continue this,"​ said Pearson.

"Salt content has become something of an issue for food firms, which have faced heavy pressure from governments in several countries to cut levels in their products due to concerns over public health."

The company said in a release that "it is well established that there is a direct relation between excessive salt and hypertension which is a reversible risk factor for congestive heart failure, renal failure and peripheral vascular disease"​.

But reducing the salt content of snacks is not just a question of making products healthier and at the same time meeting consumer taste expectations.

"Technically this breakthrough has been very difficult,"​ said Pearson. "Salt is not just a flavour enhancer. It is also highly functional and is used during expansion.

"Salt content is a key parameter because it has a strong impact on texture and expansion. It is technically very difficult to obtain a tasty crunchy pellet without salt, because the process and associated parameters have to be adapted."

But Pearson claims that the company has successfully managed to develop a new salt-free process.

"We achieved this through using specific Limagrain cereal varieties, and linking this to a particular extrusion technique. And the end result is also clean label. You get the same expansion and the same texture, but the pellets are salt free."

Pearson pointed out that there is also really good flavouring out there that is also salt free. So snack manufacturers can now look towards the possibility of combining the two to create a completely salt-free snack.

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