What's in a Name? Can Renaming Potassium Chloride Help Reduce Sodium?
A new study from IFIC aims to help inform the FDA's decision on allowing the alternate name "potassium salt," rather than "potassium chloride salt."
Recently, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation published a report that aimed to understand consumer perceptions of potassium chloride as well as alternative names that could potentially appear on a food ingredient list.1 The creation of this study was sparked by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) release of draft guidance that would allow the use of an alternate name, “potassium chloride salt,” on food labels.2
This effort by the FDA was followed by pressure from food industry stakeholders, first initiated in 2016, to allow use of the alternate name, “potassium salt” on food ingredient labels. The belief is that the average American consumer is unfavorable to the name, “potassium chloride,” due to lack of familiarity-- when in reality, it’s a common food ingredient that can help aid in lowering sodium intake.2 However, according to the FDA, “’potassium salt’ is not a name in common usage for potassium chloride, and we are unaware of evidence that would support a regulation establishing potassium salt as the common or usual name.”3
This new, 1,000 person, online study by IFIC aimed to help inform the FDA’s decision on allowing the alternate name “potassium salt,” rather than “potassium chloride salt.” The findings, more favorable towards “potassium salt,” may help potentially change the FDA’s original proposition.1
When respondents were asked to rank each ingredient below from 1 to 6 in order from least safe to eat to most safe to eat, potassium salt was ranked higher than potassium chloride salt as most safe to eat.1 Similarly, respondents were asked to list their perceptions of the ingredients from least tasty to most tasty and from east healthy to most healthy. Overall, consumers expressed concern with the word “chloride,” which was reflected in their perceptions of “potassium chloride salt.”
Industry stakeholders as a whole agree that changes need to be made in order to encourage population-wide sodium reduction. By allowing a more accepted, label-friendly ingredient name, the hope is that food manufacturers will be more motivated to use potassium chloride in their packaged food products in place of sodium chloride.2 Using potassium chloride more frequently in processed foods could be a huge win for public health at a time when Americans greatly need to lower dietary sodium levels.3