The FDA’s move to include potassium as one of the nutrients that must be listed on the Nutrition Facts panel (the FDA is also raising the DRV for potassium from 3,500mg to an RDI of 4,700mg) - coupled with its new sodium reduction targets - have focused attention on potassium chloride (KCL), a leading salt replacer.
But its name is putting consumers – who are looking for clean labels and suspicious of ‘chemical-sounding’ ingredients – off, said Eva Hurt, VP regulatory and scientific affairs at Nestlé USA in comments to the FDA submitted January 9.
“Our concern is that consumers may not choose a product that lists potassium chloride as an ingredient because of the term ‘chloride.’ This would severely inhibit our ability to sell products with reduced amounts of sodium (as encouraged by the FDA’s voluntary sodium reduction draft guidance) and thus have a negative influence on the impact of such products on the overall diet of consumers.
“Nestlé fully supports this petition because recognizing potassium salt as an alternative common or usual name would better promote consumer understanding of the ingredient and improve consumer experience.”
A friendlier name would demystify the ingredient and help the industry achieve the dual goals of lowering sodium and increasing potassium intakes, according to petitioner NuTek Food Science - which has patented a process that suppresses potassium chloride's metallic taste without requiring companies to add expensive flavor masking ingredients – and says consumer research shows that shoppers view ‘potassium salt’ more favorably than ‘potassium chloride.’
Petition is backed by food manufacturers and the CSPI, but opposed by The Salt Institute
NuTek's petition is supported by the CSPI, the North American Meat Institute, the American Bakers Association, Unilever, Campbell Soup and several other manufacturers and retailers (including H.E.B. and 7-Eleven), but opposed by The Salt Institute, which said it would open up a can of worms, given that scores of ingredients have 'chemical-sounding' names.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has also urged the FDA to ‘expedite evaluation’ of the petition in comments on the agency's sodium reduction targets, adding:
“Manufacturers need to balance the desire to decrease salt and sodium content with the simultaneous consumer demand for fewer ‘chemical-sounding’ ingredients."
Read more about NuTek's petition, to which the FDA has yet to issue a formal response, HERE.