Bakers Journal

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BAC backs Sodium Working Group goals


July 30, 2010
By Bakers Journal

July 30, 2010 – In a letter to members this week, the Baking Association of Canada (BAC) expressed support for the Multi-Stakeholder Working Group on Sodium Reduction’s voluntary three-pronged, multi-staged approach to reducing sodium in Canadians’ diets.


"The BAC and its members care about the health and wellbeing of Canadians and this important public health issue," BAC president and CEO Paul Hetherington wrote in an introduction to the association's message of support. "It is important to remember that sodium plays a particularly crucial role in the production of baked goods. It contributes to product quality, taste and texture and as we all know is essential to the baking process. Reducing our daily intake of sodium will no doubt be complex and lengthy, but BAC and its members are committed to supporting the Working Group’s new daily recommended average intake of 2,300 mg by 2016."

The text of the BAC message reads:

"The baking industry is committed to supporting an average daily recommended intake of 2,300 mg of sodium and the voluntary reduction of sodium levels in processed foods and foods sold in food service establishments.
 
It is an ambitious goal for an important public health issue. Canada is taking a leadership position relative to other countries with this goal, which we fully support.
 
BAC members have made progress as an industry and are highly engaged in the complex process of reformulation of bread and other recipes to lower sodium levels.
 
Success Depends On …

All three prongs – education, research, and a reduction of sodium in processed foods – need to work in tandem. Salt is essential in the chemistry of baking so research will play an important role in developing product reformulations and determining alternatives. Salt used in bread making has been consistent for the last 100 years in baking at 1 to 2 per cent of flour weight. Other basic ingredients such as baking power also add sodium to the baking process. Salt allows flour and yeast to interact and allows dough to rise.
 
Bread is a healthy staple in Canadians’ diet and provides much needed folic acid, whole grains, fibre and many other nutrients. Neural tube defects have been reduced dramatically since the introduction of folic acid in bread and whole grains help reduce the risk of chronic disease. The growth of whole-grain bread consumption has been rising steadily for many years, which is a healthy trend for Canadians.
 
Changing consumer behaviour and researching alternatives to sodium will require dedication and consistent efforts by government, health professionals and the food industry.
 
Reducing Sodium is a Complex Undertaking

Reducing the sodium intake of Canadians is a complex undertaking for several reasons, including its unique taste, functional properties and health safety benefits. Salt has an essential role in baking as it allows dough of yeast bread to rise and strengthens the gluten in flour. Sodium also assists in enhancing flavour and controls the growth of bacteria, an important role in food safety.
 
Researching alternatives to salt and recreating product formulations is a key focus to reducing sodium in baked goods, but will require time and significant effort given the essential role salt plays in baking. BAC members are highly engaged in the complex process of reformulation of bread and other recipes to lower sodium levels."


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