A qualitative look at perception and experience of sodium reduction strategies in the food industry through focus groups and individual interviews

Aubrey N. Dunteman, Youngsoo Lee, Soo Yeun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The high incidence of sodium overconsumption in the general population has led sodium reduction in commercial food products to become a topic of importance in the food industry. In order to bridge the gap between sodium reduction understanding in the food industry and academia, focus groups and individual interviews of food industry professionals were conducted. Sodium reduction and influence from external entities such as federal regulations and consumer insight were prominent in the nutritional concerns of food industry professionals. A large variety of sodium reduction strategies were introduced with discussion on the many factors that contribute to their potential for success. Flavor modification methods were most prevalent in the discussion, with particular focus on potassium chloride and incorporating umami taste. Factors that frequently positively contributed to a strategy's success include maintaining functionality and/or important sensory attributes, inexpensive to implement, and being perceived as clean label. Conversely, factors that negatively affect success include adversely impacting flavor, being considered not clean label, and high costs of implementation. Foods important for future sodium reduction varied widely, although those were largely products with high sodium density. Future efforts toward reducing sodium overconsumption and sodium content in the food supply fell into three categories: consumer-focused, industry-focused, and research-focused. Of particular importance for future efforts included greater regulatory pressure and more consumer nutritional education. Findings suggest that future efforts to reduce the incidence of sodium overconsumption should be carried out through multiple avenues rather than focusing on the agency of consumers, the food industry, or research alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2203-2216
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of food science
Volume88
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2023

Keywords

  • food industry
  • qualitative analysis
  • salt
  • sodium chloride
  • sodium reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science

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