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Spicy Sauce Secrets Revealed: How Much Salt Is Hiding in Your Favorite Sauces?

Daniel Kim Views  

Consumer Federation tests and evaluates 20 spicy sauces
Teumse sauce contains the highest amount of capsaicin
Sodium content varies up to 51 times across products

A spicy chicken sauce product on sale at a major supermarket in Seoul. ⓒNewsis

A significant difference in capsaicin content, up to 270 times, was observed among spicy sauces in the market. Ingesting these sauces could lead to exceeding the daily sodium intake; hence, caution is necessary.

The Korean Consumer Federation announced on the 18th the results of tests and evaluations conducted on the quality, spiciness, nutritional components, and safety of 20 spicy sauces, including 11 domestic and 9 imported products.

The capsaicin content was tested to compare the spiciness. Teumse Sauce (Paldo) had the highest amount, at 877.2 mg/kg, and J-Lek Sriracha Sauce (ChunHa Corporation) had the least, at 3.2 mg/kg, showing a maximum difference of 274 times.

Products with more than 100 mg/kg of capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin combined included Ligo Louisiana Extra Hot Sauce (Family International, 101.5 mg/kg), All-Purpose Mara Sauce (THEBORN Korea, 151.6 mg/kg), Fire Chicken Sauce (Samyang, 250.4 mg/kg), and Thank You Low Sugar Hot Fire Chicken Sauce (Special Taste, 323.3 mg/kg).

Regarding sodium content, Nakkid Crew’s Jindotgae Hot Sauce had the highest amount at 2909.09 mg per 100 g serving size. This greatly exceeds the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended daily sodium intake of 2000 mg. Bella Hot Seasoned Chicken Sauce had the lowest sodium content at 756.89 mg, showing a 51-fold difference from Jindotgae Hot Sauce.

Products that exceed the WHO’s recommended daily sodium intake include Ligo Louisiana Extra Hot Sauce (2022.07 mg), All-Purpose Mara Sauce (THEBORN Korea, 2155.01 mg), Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (Misung Family, 2461.74 mg), and Teumse Sauce (2031.95 mg), totaling five products.

Four products – J-Lek Sriracha Sauce, Ayam Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (TDF Korea), Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (Atti International), and Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce – did not have their nutritional information displayed.

Excluding four products advertising low sugar and one product where sugar was undetected, the sugar content of the remaining 15 products ranged from a minimum of 0.1 g per 100 g (Tabasco Pepper Sauce, Ottogi) to a maximum of 35.3 g (Daily Hot Chili Sauce, Emart).

The WHO’s recommended daily sugar intake for adults is 50 g.

The four products advertising low sugar showed relatively low sugar content, ranging from 0.8 g to 2.4 g per 100 g. The Consumer Federation explained that the industry is gradually reducing sugar content.

All products were tested for Escherichia coli, tar colorants, preservatives, etc., and found to be undetected or acceptable.

Upon checking the acidity (pH) concentration level of the sauces, they were generally found to be between acidic and slightly acidic.

The lowest was 2.84 (Jindotgae Hot Sauce), and the highest was 5.17 (All-Purpose Mara Sauce), with the lowest value similar to vinegar.

The cheapest product per unit (100 g or 100 ml) was Daily Hot Chili Sauce at 677 won/100 g (approximately $0.57/3.5 oz). The most expensive product was Tabasco Pepper Sauce at 5987 won/100 ml (approximately $5.07/3.4 fl oz), showing a maximum difference of 8.8 times.

Four products without allergy-related caution labels were investigated, and none contained any allergenic substances.

Lee Hyang Gi, Vice President of the Korean Consumer Federation, said, “Due to significant variations in the levels of spiciness among products, we are urging and encouraging companies to label the spiciness level so that consumers can be aware.” She added, “Recently, products advertising low sugar and low-calorie content have also been released. Consumers concerned about sugar intake should examine the nutritional labels and choose products with lower sugar content.”

한국소비자연맹 관계자가 18일 세종시 정부세종청사에서 시중에 판매되는 매운맛 소스 국내 11개 제품과 수입 9개 제품에 대한 실험 결과를 설명하고 있다. ⓒ뉴시스A Korean Consumer Federation official explains the test results of 11 domestic and 9 imported spicy sauces available in the market at the Government Complex Sejong on the 18th. ⓒNewsis
 
Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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