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Optimally accepted salt reduction across cultures
Naturally brewed soy sauce used in three countries with different food cultures

*Corresponding author
1. Kikkoman Europe R&D Laboratory BV, Nieuwe Kanaal 7G, 6709PA, Wageningen, Netherlands
2. Research & Development Division Kikkoman Co Ltd. 399 Noda, Chiba 278-0037, Japan
3. National University of Singapore, Department of Chemistry, S3 #06-04, 3 Science Drive 3, Singapore 117543, Singapore
4. Kikkoman Singapore R&D Laboratory PTE Ltd, c/o Department of Chemistry, National University of Singapore, 3 Science Drive 3, Singapore 117543, Singapore
5. Wageningen University and Research Centre, Food & Biobased Research, Bornse Weilanden 9, 6708 WG, Wageningen, The Netherlands


To explore the influence of food-culture on partial replacement of salt by naturally brewed soy sauce, the results of a procedure, based on equivalence of overall taste intensity and pleasantness, were compared in three countries. Per country, untrained consumers assessed pleasantness and some sensory aspects such as overall taste and salty taste of salad dressing, tomato soup, and stir-fried pork, using identical standard products. The acceptable percentages of salt replacement in the Netherlands, Japan, and Singapore were respectively 32 percent, 34 percent, and 35 percent, averaged over the products. The correlation between pleasantness and overall taste was in all cases higher than the correlation between pleasantness and saltiness, indicating that taste was the main driver for acceptance.


Over five decades, scientific evidence amounted on the aversive effects a high salt intake could have on human health (1-3). Excessive intake of salt increases the risk of hypertension and is directly related to the development of cardiovascular disease (4-6). In reaction, the World Health Organization (WHO) published recommendations to reduce salt intake to 5g/day (7, 8). Currently, a reduction of salt in food is still a key issue, especially for the food industry, since processed foods are thought to account for 80 percent of salt-intake in the daily diet (9, 10). Consequently, food manufacturers in both Western and Asian countries are pressed by their authorities and consumer groups to reduce sodium content. Although several studies on salt reduction were published in the last decades, the average sodium content of processed foods decreased only by 0.3 percent per year between 1983 and 2004 (11). This finding suggests a general reluctance and/or hesitance by the food industry to apply the results of these studies.

It has been reported that perception and preference might be dependent on early childhood food experiences and specifi ...

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