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Sodium Chloride (Salt)

May 14, 2015
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What is it?

Sodium Chloride is salt.

Why is it used?

Salt is added to food, either by the food producer or by the consumer, as a flavor enhancer, preservative, binder, fermentation control additive, texture-control agent and/or color developer.  It is added to promote color development in bacon, ham and other processed meat products and acts as a binder in sausages.  Salt is added to cheese as a color, fermentation and texture control agent.   In baking, salt is added to control the rate of fermentation in bread dough and to strengthen the gluten.  It is also used as a flavor enhancer in snacks including pretzels and chips.

 

Why should I know about it?

Salt is found in most processed foods, and, as a result, most consumers consume more than a day’s worth of sodium over the course of the day.  A diet high in sodium increases blood pressure in most people, thereby increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The Food and Drug Administration considers salt to be “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS), even though it recognizes that diets high in salt are a major cause of cardiovascular disease and even though its own advisory committee in 1979 concluded salt should not be considered GRAS.

Other additives, such as monosodium glutamate and sodium benzoate, contribute additional sodium. Salt serves many purposes in foods, such as acting as a preservative, adding a salty flavor, masking bitter flavors, and fostering expected texture or other property.

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