The consumption of low-salt bread represents an efficient way to improve public health by decreasing cardiovascular health issues related to increased intakes of sodium chloride (NaCl). The reduction of NaCl influences the bread quality characteristics, in particular the shelf-life. Calcium propionate (CP) is commonly used in bread as an antifungal agent. Alternatively, sourdough can be used as a natural preservative. This work addresses the feasibility of NaCl reduction in wheat bread focussing on shelf-life and the compensation using sourdough as well as chemical preservatives. The impact of NaCl reduction and the addition of preservative agents in conjunction with different NaCl concentrations on the shelf-life of bread were tested under 'environmental' conditions in a bakery as well as using challenge tests against selected fungi. The challenge tests were performed using fungi commonly found in the bakery environment such as Penicillium expansum, Fusarium culmorum and Aspergillus niger. NaCl reduction decreased the shelf-life by 1-2 days. The addition of sourdough with antifungal activity prolonged the shelf-life to 12-14 days whereas the addition of 0.3 % calcium propionate prolonged the shelf-life to 10-12 days only. The fungal challenge tests revealed differences in the determined shelf-life between the different fungi based on their resistance. Similar antifungal performance was observed in sourdough breads and calcium propionate breads when tested against the different indicator moulds. The findings of this study indicate that addition of sourdough fermented using a specifically selected antifungal Lactobacillus amylovorus DSM 19280 can replace the chemical preservative calcium propionate addition and compensate for the reduced level and, therefore, guarantee the product safety of low-salt bread.
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