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FDA In Brief: FDA issues new guidance to help consumers recognize potassium chloride as an alternative to sodium in food

FDA In Brief: FDA issues new guidance to help consumers recognize potassium chloride as an alternative to sodium in food

May 17, 2019

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  Nathan Arnold
  301-796-6248

“Good nutrition begins with understanding, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration aims to empower consumers with nutrition information where possible. As we implement our Nutrition Innovation Strategy to help Americans be more aware of the foods that they are consuming and the impact diet has on their health, we are drawing attention to the fact that Americans consume significantly more than the recommended limit of sodium each day. Excess intake of sodium is associated with increased risk of high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease and stroke, which is why we must continue looking at ways to work with industry to provide options that help Americans reduce their sodium intake,” said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “To that end, today the agency is issuing draft guidance on the addition of the word ‘salt’ to potassium chloride’s ingredient name on packaged food products. Potassium chloride is an ingredient that can partially replace sodium chloride in foods, assisting Americans in reducing their sodium intake. In making this change, manufacturers may use this more descriptive name and increase consumer awareness that potassium chloride is an ingredient similar to sodium-based salt – with the added benefit that it contains potassium.”

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a draft guidance “The Use of an Alternate Name for Potassium Chloride in Food Labeling: Guidance for Industry” announcing that the FDA intends to exercise enforcement discretion for the declaration of “potassium chloride salt” in the ingredient statement of food labels as an alternative ingredient name to “potassium chloride.”

When salt is added to packaged foods, it is primarily sodium chloride, which is commonly referred to as “salt” on ingredient labels. However, potassium chloride is similar to sodium chloride in taste and functional effects in foods and is also a salt according to the chemical definition. Consumption of potassium chloride does not add sodium to the diet and also has the added benefit of containing potassium, a nutrient that is often under consumed by Americans. Federal guidelines recommend that Americans consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day, yet Americans consume on average 3,400 mg of sodium per day. The average daily potassium intake in the U.S. is approximately 3,000 mg for men and 2,300 mg for women, yet according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, men should consume 3,400 mg and women should consume 2,600 mg of potassium each day. The alternative declaration outlined in the draft guidance may help Americans better recognize potassium chloride as an alternative to “salt” in ingredient statements and support industry reformulation efforts to reduce overall sodium intake.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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