PepsiCo Reduces Sodium by Restructuring Salt

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Pepsi — which is primarily a snack-food company, not a soft-drink company — plans on reducing sodium content by restructuring salt:

“Early on in our research, it became apparent that the majority of salt on a snack doesn’t even have time to dissolve in your saliva because you swallow it so rapidly,” explained Mehmood Khan, senior vice president and chief scientific officer and a former Mayo Clinic endocrinologist. A Wall Street Journal story later reported only about 20 percent of the salt on a chip dissolves on the tongue, and the remaining 80 percent is swallowed without contributing to taste.

“There was an opportunity for our scientists,” said Khan. “If we could figure out a way of getting the salt crystals to dissolve faster, then we could decrease the amount of salt we put on a snack with no compromise on taste.”

Well, they did. Khan said PepsiCo researchers collaborated with scientists from around the world and found ways of changing the crystal size and structure to make the salt crystal dissolve more quickly, effectively putting the sodium on your tongue, not in your digestive system. He said it took an understanding of crystal chemistry.

When asked if the resulting product needed FDA or GRAS approval, Khan said no. “It’s still sodium chloride. Once it’s dissolved, it’s no different than any other salt.”

I was going to recommend the overly complicated and highly technical process of putting salt on the outside of snacks, rather than mixed in with the other ingredients, but I suppose that’s impractical.

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