SODIUM CONTENT IN CHEESES: SUITABILITY TO THE VOLUNTARY AGREEMENT AND LABELING

Abstract This study was done to establish the sodium concentration in the cheeses marketed in the western border region of the Rio Grande do Sul. A total of 30 cheese samples (grated Parmesan, Mozzarella, Prato and Artisanal) were collected from different brands and lots. After analyzing them under atomic emission spectroscopy, in quadruplicate, the sodium levels were ascertained. From the quantification of the sodium content significant differences were noted among the lots of all the cheese brands assessed. The results clearly revealed that 44.4% of the companies had listed nutritional values on the labels that were noncompliant with the legislation. Besides, 77.8% of the brands failed to reduce the sodium concentration to the levels jointly decided upon by the Ministry of Health and Brazilian Association of Food Industries, which should have been achieved ideally towards the end of 2016. While the Artisanal cheeses did not register high concentrations of sodium, the formulation of the grated Parmesan cheese was characterized by its high sodium content (2014.56 mg/100 g), as well as by its steady rise in sodium concentration over the years. This is indicative of the inattentiveness of the industry towards the consumers, as stringent laws to standardize the quantity of added salt in cheeses preparations are nonexistent.