In an effort to lessen the impact of chronic disease in the country, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has put its weight behind liberalizing rules on how potassium chloride, a common salt alternative, is listed on product labels.
In a constituent update, the FDA announced a draft guidance May 17 to seek public comments on proposed rulemaking that would allow the use of the term "potassium chloride salt" on food labels. As the draft explained, the FDA wants to exercise "enforcement discretion" in current labeling practices, with the aim of encouraging greater public awareness of potassium chloride as an acceptable salt substitute, to counter misconceptions of it as an undesirable chemical substance with no place in food products.
Recent history of potassium chloride labeling
In 2017 NuTek Food Science, supported by Campbell Soup Company and 15 other organizations, asked in a citizen petition to the FDA that "potassium salt" be allowed as a term on food ingredient labels. The rationale behind the request included consumer research by Campbell that discovered consumers were more accepting of an ingredient called "potassium salt" in their soups rather than "potassium chloride."
Campbell argued that permitting the alternative name could encourage manufacturers to lower the conventional sodium chloride content in foods, replacing it with potassium chloride. Campbell also said that the move would help consumers increase the amount of potassium in their diets, which would have a positive effect on blood pressure.
Through this month's draft guidance, the FDA has signaled that it is essentially agreeing with this earlier request, saying that it aligns with the agency's initiatives to promote healthful food options and improve public nutrition by decreasing the use of common table salt. The FDA hopes that this action will offer greater flexibility to manufacturers in terms of labeling food ingredients, especially for products specifically intended to reduce dietary sodium.
Next steps for the FDA
Because the intent of the FDA's draft guidance is to alert food manufacturers of the agency's proposed changes in labeling language, there will be a period of waiting for response from the food industry, public health advocates and others. This process includes collecting public commentary on the draft over the next 60 days. Once comments have been reviewed, the agency will finalize new regulations. In the meantime, food manufacturers will be monitoring the progress of the FDA action with an eye toward adapting their ingredient labels if and when the rules do change.
To keep your labels in compliance with regulations, in-house labeling is a practical, cost-effective solution. For details on labeling systems that can do this, go to Optimedia Labs' U.S. page or our Canadian site.