BITES : Dilling Us Down


Kosher dill pickles are about 2% salt, which is an awful lot for many diets. However, Agriculture Department researchers have developed a pickling formula that cuts that salt amount by 40% without affecting taste.

“Although we tried cutting the salt by as much as 60%,” says USDA food scientist Roger McFeeters, “we found we couldn’t go higher than 40% without losing flavor.”

The USDA formula, not yet commercially available, is based on the same idea as the salt substitutes sold for table use. It replaces part of the sodium chloride with other salts: potassium chloride, calcium chloride and magnesium chloride. McFeeters notes that the formula has only been tested for kosher-style pickles and may not be satisfactory with other types.


Is This Progresso?

Progresso is converting its 10 canned chicken soups (from plain chicken noodle to spicy chicken with penne) to all white meat. “Consumer research told us that people associate white meat chicken with quality and health,” said Linda Kline, business team leader for Progresso. It’s true that white meat is leaner than dark, but we’re frankly appalled--how can you make a flavorful chicken broth without dark meat?

What’s Black and White and Bread All Over?

Late in 1994, stories erupted in the Japanese press that cuttlefish ink had cancer-fighting properties. The Japanese responded just as the American public would have--they demanded ink in everything. For some reason, they particularly wanted ink-enriched French bread, and Japanese bakers could hardly keep up with demand for ink bread.

International Clam Incident Averted

On July 31, 1994, when Le Van Bang, Vietnam’s ambassador to the United States, was still his country’s ambassador to the United Nations, he and his chauffeur got into hot water for picking clams from clam beds in East Hampton, N.Y., without a permit. After an embarrassing beginning (he threw his plastic bag of clams away, adding a littering charge to illegal shellfishing, and pretended not to speak English), he waived diplomatic immunity, paid his fine and apologized. He had been using his feet to pluck the clams, a clamming technique known as treading.