In an effort to educate consumers about the amount of sodium they are consuming through processed foods, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released an industry guideline to bring awareness to sodium content through nutrition labeling. In this industry guideline, food products containing potassium chloride must identify this ingredient as potassium chloride salt on its food label.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, on average, Americans consume nearly double the daily recommended amount of 2,300 mg of sodium. This heightened consumption is not a result of the consumer adding salt to their food, but by their increased daily intake of processed food products. By reflecting potassium chloride on product labels as “potassium chloride salt” it is the goal of the FDA to not only bring awareness to the consumer but encourage the food manufacturer to reduce the amount of total sodium used within their products.
These potential new regulations, are in congruence with the World Health Organization’s movement to reduce the global consumption of sodium in order to improve public health by reducing the risk of heart disease and other chronic disease due to increased salt intake.
Potassium Chloride vs. Sodium Chloride
Potassium chloride was initially introduced as a sodium chloride replacement in processed foods in order to allow food manufacturers to reduce the amount of sodium in their food products. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848703/ ) Although Americans exceed the dietary guidelines for sodium, they are often consuming under the recommended daily value for potassium. Substituting potassium chloride for sodium chloride was an effort to improve public health by increasing potassium consumption while simultaneously reducing the amount of sodium in processed foods. Unfortunately, consuming too much potassium chloride can still produce the same negative health effects as it’s dangerous counterpart. So although the ingredient swap was well-intentioned, consumption remains at an all-time high and continued efforts to educate through food labeling have been put in place.
Potassium Chloride Changes it’s Name
According to the FDA food labeling industry guideline draft, potassium chloride will now be cited as “potassium chloride salt” in the ingredient list on product labels. These new labeling rules would serve to educate the consumer of the sources of sodium within the food products they consume so they are able to make a conscious effort to reduce their daily salt intake. The thought behind the new nutrition label guideline is that Americans are typically unaware of sodium sources in processed foods. By basically calling a spade a spade in regards to labeling potassium chloride as a type of “salt”, the consumer will be all the wiser in their decision making regarding their health to prevent the onset of chronic disease in the form of hypertension, heart disease and many others impacted by sodium consumption.
Improving Health By Decreasing Sodium Intake
Scientific studies indicate that there is a direct correlation between one’s health and the amount of sodium consumed on a daily basis. According to the CDC, as sodium intake increases, so does blood pressure which places one at risk for cardiovascular disease as well as stroke. These two conditions are the leading causes of death in the United States. As previously mentioned, on average, Americans consume nearly double the daily recommended amount of sodium. As a result, 1 in 3 American adults have high blood pressure, for children this number is 1 in 10. Often times, consumers are unaware of their sodium intake because the flavor of an item may not be “salty”. But sodium content may not be reflected in flavor at all and is the highest in some of the most commonly consumed foods such as pizza, deli meats, chips, crackers, and other pre-packaged food products. By creating new voluntary guidelines for food manufacturers concerning processed foods, the FDA can encourage the improvement of public health, one consumer at a time. It also leaves the door open to further adjust product labels as the food industry evolves.
Making nutrition information more understandable on FDA food labels is paramount for consumer education. The more descriptive a nutrition facts panel is, the more understanding a consumer has about what ingredients the food products they know and love actually contain. The effort to identify potassium chloride as “salt” will not only educate the consumer but challenge the food manufacturer to consider the content of their products. Thus improving public health and ultimately reducing the incidence of chronic disease as a whole.
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