US – The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of the term “Potassium Salt” by manufacturers using potassium chloride as a substitute for salt.
The decision is the result of a 2016 petition from NuTek Food Science, a clean-label ingredients company which was advocating for more consumer-friendly terminology.
Potassium chloride is a naturally occurring salt that is used in food because it has the benefits of boosting potassium intake and reducing the use of conventional salt.
It previously had to be referred to on ingredient labels as “potassium chloride,” and NuTek wanted the agency to change that to potassium salt.
This is because, while the chemical names are accurate, they generally aren’t well received by consumers.
Research commissioned by NuTek Food Science that was included in the initial petition to FDA asked 466 consumers if they would be concerned about several potential ingredients in food.
More than a quarter — 26% — said they were concerned about “potassium chloride.” Conversely, 19% were concerned about “potassium salt.”
For “sodium chloride,” 31% of consumers would be concerned about the ingredient on the label, while less — 22% — were concerned about “salt.”
Consumers in NuTek’s labeling study said they were concerned about the term “chloride,” saying the terminology sounded to them like a synthetic chemical additive.
Commenters said consumers may also pass over a product with “potassium chloride” in favor of one with “salt” because they may not think the first product is seasoned.
The study thus revealed that consumers want to eat foods that are healthier and have shorter, easy to understand ingredient lists.
Food companies are responding by reformulating their products, resulting in positive differences in Nutrition Facts panels and ingredient lists.
In recent years, FDA and USDA — both of which handle parts of food regulation — have been working to modernize to better serve today’s consumers.
From the Nutrition Facts revamp to updating egg product inspection to getting rid of standards of identity for frozen cherry pie and French dressing, several changes have taken more antiquated regulations and made them more relevant.
This change fits into that category. Instead of forcing manufacturers to use the chemical name of potassium salt, it allows the ingredient to have a more common and understandable name.
Salt is in many processed foods and can contribute to major health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, calcium loss and strokes.
According to the FDA, average per capita sodium consumption in 2016 was about 3,400 milligrams — 50% more than recommended.
The agency in an effort to curb this dangerous consumption of salt published draft voluntary targets to limit sodium consumption to 3,000 mg daily by 2018 and 2,300 mg daily by 2026.
Although these guidelines have been criticized because they are voluntary, many manufacturers have been reformulating to try to reach this goal.
Potassium chloride is a common and inexpensive way to get there and companies including Campbell Soup and Unilever, as well as snack food industry group SNAC International submitted letters of support for the change.
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