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Salt analysis

Salt analysis - make sure you understand the results


In 2003, 'Salt and Health' - a report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, which advises the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) and UK health departments - recommended targets for reduced salt consumption by adults and children. This was on the basis that high salt intake may be linked with high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease. As a result, the FSA initiated a series of targets for reducing the salt content of specific groups of products.

It is the sodium part of salt (sodium chloride) that is at issue here, and believed to be responsible for the adverse health effects. Many companies have been re-evaluating the sodium and salt content of their foods as a result of the FSA’s activities, and many products are now labelled as containing less salt than previously.

Food labelling legislation requires that salt be declared in the list of ingredients where it is used. The new Food Information Regulation is tightening the requirement to label products with salt content. Irrespective of whether or not a claim concerning sodium or salt is made, the nutrition information will be required to include data on the salt content per hundred grams, or hundred millilitres, of the food.

Furthermore, there are certain restrictions on the use of sodium claims such as "low in sodium" and "reduced sodium".

Determining the salt content of foods

Salt analysis (via both sodium and chloride determination) is one of the many chemical analytical services available at Campden BRI.

Salt in food is generally determined analytically in one of two ways:

Alternative procedures and equipment are also available which use electrochemical techniques.

From these analyses the salt content is estimated by calculation making use of the atomic weights of sodium (22.99) and chloride (35.45). The molecular weight of sodium chloride is 58.44 (that is, 22.99 + 35.45), and 58.44 grams of pure sodium chloride will contain 22.99 g of sodium and 35.45 g of chloride. These figures can be used to inter-relate the levels of sodium, chloride and salt.