Salt content in Gouda cheese again reduced by ten percent

23 February 2016

Gouda cheese 48+ and Gouda foil cheese of FrieslandCampina nowadays contain ten percent less salt. Less salt in our daily diet is better for our health, as we eat in too much salt. Reducing the salt content in cheese is not an easy job, for cheese is a natural product and the salt content can easily vary.

 Still, the cheese makers of FrieslandCampina managed to realise this salt reduction. A 14 percent reduction was already achieved in 2010 compared to 2006. And now another 10 percent reduction.  The goodness of cheese is retained, but with less salt.

Adjust the curing times

When making cheese, salt plays a role in forming the rind, it has influence on the taste and preserves the cheese. In order to make cheese from curd, the pressed curd is put into brine. The cheese remains in the brine for several tens of hours and so it receives its salt content. In order to make a cheese contain less salt, the curing times need to be adjusted. It is not easy to achieve a constant salt reduction. For example, there will be more salt just underneath the rind than in the centre of the cheese. An older cheese shrinks through evaporation and this increases the (relative) salt content.

4,000 analyses per year

Then how do we know that cheese contains exactly 10 percent less salt? By testing and measuring a lot: over 4,000 analyses per year. Currently our Gouda cheese contains an average of 687 milligrams of sodium (1.7 percent salt) per 100 grams of product. Salt is also less important for preservation because the raw milk supplied by our farmers is of a much higher quality. Another aspect is that the hygiene level in our production plants has increased as well.

Reduction of salt content in cheese really helps

People eat too much salt in the Netherlands as well as in other countries: about nine grams per person per day. This actually should be six grams. Less salt is better for our blood pressure, heart and arteries. About 10 percent of our daily salt intake comes from cheese. Cheese contains a lot of good nutrients, but it also contains a lot of salt. In the top three of products providing salt to our diets bread is number one, cheese comes second and meat products take the third place. Other salt providers are soups, sauces and candy. The difficult thing with bread and cheese is that we eat relatively much of these products. The salt contents of both bread and cheese have been reduced in the past years. Therefore this really helps with respect to our salt intake.

Arrangements

Together with a number of organisations, including the Dutch Dairy Association and FNLI, and the food producers, the Dutch government made arrangements about making food healthier. This concerns less fat, less sugar and also less salt. All large cheese companies in the Netherlands have committed themselves to these arrangements.