The bitter blocker has the visual appearance of salt, and is heat stable and readily soluble. It is declared as a natural flavor and can mask the off notes of potassium chloride, Markus Beba, VP of Sales and Marketing with NTC told FoodNavigator-USA.
Internal data from NTC showed that 88% of consumers preferred a low-salt chicken broth containing 0.35% sodium chloride and 0.45% potassium chloride made with 0.08% of natural potassium blocker, compared with the same low-salt soup without the blocker, said the company.
Potassium chloride (KCl) is gaining traction as a cost-effective and healthier replacer of sodium chloride - not only does KCl taste salty, it can also also replace the functionality of sodium chloride in many food applications. However, its commercial success is hindered by two factors, said Beba: “First, there is the bitter/metallic taste at the applied dosage, and, second, the term ‘potassium chloride’ is consumer-unfriendly.”
Beba believes NTC has come up with a “very cost-effective solution” to the first hindrance. The second could be addressed by a petition by NuTek Food Science to the FDA to permit use of the term “potassium salt” as an alternative label to potassium chloride.
The petition has been supported by Unilever and the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, as well as the American Bakers Association and other food companies.
Survey data shows that consumers believe potassium salt to be ‘more appetizing,’ ‘less processed,’ ‘safer to consume,’ and ‘healthier’ than the ‘chemical-sounding' potassium chloride, said NuTek president Brian Boor.
Patrizia Barone, PhD, Unilever’s regional regulatory affairs VP, North American Region and Global Foods & Refreshment, argued that, “recognizing ‘potassium salt’ as an alternate common or usual name would improve consumer understanding and promote clear food labeling.”
Unilever, she added, “has generated its own consumer data leading to similar conclusions. Unilever study results showed that consumer perception of ‘potassium salt’ was significantly better than potassium chloride.”
Mr Beba and NTC’s VP of innovation, David Johnston, PhD, have a long history in the flavor industry, having held senior executive positions at flavor giant Firmenich for many years. NTC began in 2012 with the release of an acid masker for dairy products. The company has also launched a natural fat enhancer, a stevia masker, and natural alternative garlic and onion flavors.
Demand for the natural alternative garlic flavors recently rocketed when garlic powder went up from $3 to $7-8 per kilogram, said Beba.