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The University of Toronto recently published an article (https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-03-survey-huge-unnecessary-variation-salt.html) critical of Canada’s baking industry’s efforts in sodium reduction for breads.  BAC provided the following response:

“Your article fails to provide context regarding the establishment of the Canadian sodium reduction targets, the role sodium plays in baking and the reduction efforts bakers to-date.  Canadian bakers have made double digit sodium reduction in most breads between 2009 and 2015.   The mean sodium of all pantry breads has decreased by 11% in six years.  According to a Baking Association of Canada analysis (which has been shared with Health Canada) in 2015, 90% of pantry bread met the maximum sodium target and based on market share, the average amount of sodium in pantry bread is just under 400 mg per 100g.

The reduction was achieved in face of the essential technical role for sodium in baking and growing consumer demands for “clean label” and the use of natural ingredients.   Sodium reduction in bread was achieved even though sodium is an essential functional ingredient to the chemistry of bread baking.   Sodium is essential to fermentation control in baking. When salt and yeast compete for water, salt wins and yeast growth is slowed resulting in a more uniform cell structure and better overall bread texture quality.   Sodium has a strengthening and tightening effect on the gluten in dough. Without adequate sodium in the formulation, the resulting bread would be weak and crumbly. 

Canadian bakers continue to support voluntary sodium reduction, however we have reminded Health Canada and others that the 2016 reduction targets were “aspirational” as they were based on meeting a public health objective, not on functional achievability.   Both during the consultation process leading to the establishment of the reduction targets and to this very day, the Baking Association of Canada reminds Health Canada of the baking industry’s significant technical barriers in sodium reduction.

It is also important to put the Canadian reduction targets in context of what is happening world wide.  Health Canada’s 2016 pantry bread reduction targets were the lowest of any of the international partners (Brazil, South Africa, UK, US, Chile) that they are looking at in terms of sodium reduction programs.  Not surprising the 2016 Canadian pantry bread targets have not been achieved by any of these countries nor any others to our understanding.”