Nestlé is establishing a collaboration with a US life sciences company, Chromocell Corporation, to identify compounds with the potential to be used as taste-giving ingredients in a range of foods.
The collaborative project will help advance Nestlé’s nutrition, health and wellness agenda by enabling the company to further enhance the nutritional profile of its products.
Chromocell which is based in New Jersey, will use its proprietary ‘Chromovert’ technology to screen libraries of ingredients to detect those that provide similar or equally pleasing tastes to salt.
It is hoped the technique, which enables researchers to screen a wide selection of compounds, will lead to the discovery of new flavours.
These could in future help Nestlé to reduce the amount of salt used in its products while preserving the tastes consumers are used to.
Nestlé is investing USD 15 million in the research as part of its worldwide commitment to continually improving the nutritional profile of its products while ensuring they remain pleasurable to eat.
Equally desirable tastes
“Our collaboration with Chromocell is about finding ways to recreate the tastes consumers expect from culinary dishes, but with reduced salt,” said Sean Westcott, Research and Development Manager for Nestlé’s Food Strategic Business Unit.
Over the past ten years, Nestlé has removed more than 12,000 tonnes of salt from its food products globally.
“We are ultimately aiming to offer consumers more low-salt options for making tasty and pleasurable everyday meals for themselves and their families.”
Benefits of salt reduction
Sodium, found in salt, is important for controlling the amount of water in the body, maintaining the normal pH of blood, transmitting nerve signals and helping muscular contraction.
Salt is present in all foods in different amounts, but consuming too much can have adverse effects on health.
The World Health Organization recommends adults consume no more than about one teaspoon of salt per person per day. Globally, many governments and public health bodies have launched initiatives to help people reduce their salt intake.
Nestlé was the first company in the food industry to introduce comprehensive policies for the systematic reduction of specific nutrients considered to be detrimental to health when consumed in excess.
“We have a long and successful history of making tasty and nutritionally balanced foods,” Mr Westcott continued.
“We continually improve our products and where appropriate, reduce their salt content. We understand consumers want to enjoy the flavours of a dish and we see this collaboration helping us offer food choices that allow them to do this, but with less salt.”
Nestlé’s collaboration with Chromocell – expected to last at least three years – builds on extensive work it has already undertaken to reduce salt in a variety of its food products globally, either by adapting existing products or introducing new ones.
Chromocell Corporation identifies and develops new food and beverage ingredients, as well as ingredients for therapeutic purposes.
To discover these ingredients, Chromocell uses naturally occurring systems that mimic human biology, an approach particularly suitable for innovative research in taste and aroma.
“We aim to improve consumer products using breakthrough science and our leading Chromovert technology,” said Christian Kopfli, Chief Executive Officer of Chromocell.
“We share Nestlé’s commitment to nutrition, health and wellness through our unique work in the development of the highest-quality ingredients.”
Aside from health benefits, there are other good reasons for reducing salt in foods.
Salt has a distinctive taste that can overwhelm other flavours. It can also mask the taste of more delicate herbs or spices.
Worldwide, Nestlé chefs and scientists work together, and in collaboration with other organisations, to find different ways of bringing out tastes in food without using salt.
Examples of reduced-salt products Nestlé has introduced include Equilive, a new range of soups, seasonings and bouillons it launched in Chile in 2011 to meet consumer demand for real culinary tastes with low salt.
The company’s special ranges of Herta Knacki sausages and Le Bon Paris cooked ham in France offer consumers reduced salt choices, while its Maggi Benebien bouillon range in the Dominican Republic and Maggi bouillon cubes in the Netherlands help consumers cook meals using less salt.
Read more stories about the science of taste:
Nestlé scientists uncover the complexity of taste
Nestlé scientists unravel the secrets of taste buds
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