Is There Too Much Salt in Meat Substitutes?
Study finds meat substitutes need to trim sodium
As consumers are transitioning to plant-based diets faster than ever before, food companies are hurrying to market meat substitutes that mimic the experience of traditional meat products.1,2 Soy-based burgers, chicken-less nuggets, and non-meat bacon and sausages are increasingly popping up on grocery shelves to meet heightening consumer interest. Often times, shoppers will reach for meat substitutes for health or environmental reasons, but those same consumers seeking a healthier diet may be surprised to find that meat substitutes often contain more sodium than the meat products they are designed to replace.3
According to the American Heart Association, high sodium diets can increase blood pressure which may lead to cardiovascular issues such as greater risk for heart disease and stroke. Recent data suggest that the majority of Americans (75%) are looking for food products that contain lower levels of sodium.4
Across the ocean, the UK group, Action on Salt, based at Queen Mary University in London and comprised mainly of nutrition, public health and medical experts, published a 2018 study that found that about 28% of 157 meat substitute products evaluated contain higher salt levels than the maximum 2017 sodium targets established by the UK government.5 In addition, the organization also discovered that meat-free burgers contain, on average, more salt than traditional meat burgers.
Mhairi Brown, Nutritionist at Action on Salt, exclaimed that “Meat-free options are sold as healthier alternatives to real meat. This health halo is concealing quite high levels of salt.”4 Brown explains that while meat consumption must be reduced on a population level in order to combat climate change, it’s also imperative that the food industry stays proactive in offering healthier, lower sodium meat substitutes.5
In light of the UK Action on Salt 2018 survey, health advocates and campaigners have called on food manufacturers to reduce salt in all of their products.6 By using potassium chloride, a common salt (sodium chloride) substitute, it’s possible for food companies to respond with sodium reduction options. At Cargill Salt, not only do we offer a variety of Potassium Pro® Potassium Chloride products, but we partner with food manufacturers to provide the resources and expertise needed to meet their sodium reduction goals. Potassium chloride is a versatile and highly compatible salt replacer ingredient in the processed meat industry, and its potential to change the game in the meat substitutes space is equally as promising.