Aiming to have made a major breakthrough by the end of next year, Heinz, Walkers, Unilever Bestfoods and Asda have all joined forces to fund a £100,000 year-long research initiative by Leatherhead Food International.
Starting next week, a team of chemists, food technologists and “sensory researchers” will steal themselves away in the research body’s laboratories in a bid to discover how much salt they can take out of key lines without compromising taste.
Director of research Bryan Hanley said the move was a direct response to this year’s report by the government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) which called for a significant reduction in salt levels. The government and the Food Standards Agency have made it clear they are particularly concerned about the levels of salt in processed foods where consumers have no control over dosing and that they consider it the food industry’s job to find a solution.
Hanley said the programme was likely to look at ways of improving salt delivery to the mouth, as currently large amounts enter the body without even being tasted.
A study into consumer perceptions of salt is also being considered and the final details of the programme were being hammered out this week with the industry partners.