Meeting FDA Claims with Potassium Chloride
Incorporating potassium chloride into processed food products may help food manufacturers come closer to nutrient content claims such as "low sodium" or "good source of potassium."
Each year, as consumers increasingly reach for food products perceived as “healthy” and “nutritious,” more food manufacturers are working to reformulate their products with different alternatives for standard granulated table salt. (1) That’s because even though salt may seem like a small detail on an ingredient label, consumers prefer to purchase sea salt, kosher salt, or a “low sodium” option over standard salt. (2) Low sodium product offerings, in particular, are experiencing substantial growth in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) market. (3) Within the food industry, it’s well understood that one of the best solutions to help reduce sodium in food products is potassium chloride. Janice Johnson, a food scientist lead at Cargill, explained, “[Salt] does many things that no [other] single ingredient can completely do. The next closest [ingredient to salt for both flavor and functionality] is potassium chloride.” (4)
In a recent proprietary market analysis conducted by Cargill, we discovered just how many food processors are using potassium chloride in their food products. Of that total, 47% of the products made with potassium chloride meet the threshold to make a nutrient content claim in regard to sodium reduction. (5) The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has official definitions based on scientific evidence that establish clear parameters for what levels of sodium or potassium in products can qualify for these claims. The FDA-regulated sodium definitions which food manufacturers can claim include “low sodium” (less than or equal to 140 milligrams (mg) sodium per Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC) serving), “very low sodium” (less than or equal to 35 mg sodium per RACC serving), “reduced sodium” (at least 25% less sodium per RACC serving than regular comparative food) and “sodium free” ( less than 5 mg sodium per RACC serving). Regulated claims for potassium include “good source of potassium” (10-19% of Daily Reference Value (DRV) for potassium per RACC serving) and “excellent source of potassium”( 20% DRV for potassium per RACC serving or more). (6)
The fact that many products that contain potassium chloride can also make a potassium claim is a useful finding for food manufacturers looking for ways to market their products. According to a report by Peter Williams, Associate Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at Wollongong University, New South Wales, Australia, one of the most common findings from studies reviewing the effectiveness of health[-related] claims was that consumers will perceive the products with health[-related] claims as healthier and they will be more likely to purchase it. (7) The positive attitudes that are generated because of a claim can even “result in a general ‘halo’ effect, affecting belief about nutritional attributes unrelated to the claim.” (7)
As food manufacturers are working to innovate and reformulate products to reach increasingly health conscious consumers, they should consider the potential positive impact of making relevant nutrient content claims. By switching to potassium chloride in processed food products, manufacturers can come closer to achieving a related nutrient content claim, and therefore can help guide consumers to products that could enable them to reduce sodium and increase potassium in their diets.
- Cargill Proprietary Research 1 (2018, IngredienTracker)
- Innova Market Insights
- Cargill Proprietary Research 2 (KCl and Sea Salt Deck, slide #11)
- FDA Regulations 21 CFR 101.61 and 21 CFR 101.54
Crowe KM and Francis C. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND): Functional Foods. August 2013. 113 (8) p. 1096–1103