Abstract: Reduction of dietary sodium by reduction of sodium in foods is a current industry target. Quantitative information on consumer knowledge of sodium and reduction of dietary sodium is limited. The objectives of this study were to characterize consumer knowledge and awareness of sodium and salt reduction in foods. Consumers (n= 489) participated in a quantitative internet survey designed to gather knowledge and attitudes towards dietary sodium, sodium in foods, and health. Eating habits and food consumption characteristics, knowledge of salt and sodium, and interest in health and wellness were probed. Saltiness believe and sodium knowledge indices were calculated based on correct responses to salt levels in food products. Kano analysis was conducted to determine the role of nutrition labels and satisfaction/dissatisfaction of foods. Consumers were aware of the presence of sodium in “salty” foods, and that sodium was part of salt. People who had a family history of certain diseases associated with a higher intake of dietary sodium did not necessarily have more knowledge of the relationship between sodium intake and a specific disease compared to consumers with no family history. Sodium content on the food label panel did not influence consumer dissatisfaction; however, sodium content did not necessarily increase consumer product satisfaction either. The addition of a healthy nutrient (that is, whole grain, fiber) into a current food product was appealing to consumers. For nutrient labeling, a “reduced” claim was more appealing to consumers than a “free” claim for “unhealthy” nutrients such as fat, sodium, and sugar.
Practical Application: This study demonstrated the current state of consumer knowledge on sodium and salt reduction, and consumer perception of the relationship between diets high in sodium and many chronic diseases. Information that may contribute to consumer satisfaction on nutrition panel labeling was also determined.