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Health Canada Urged to Allow the Term “Potassium Salt” on Food Labels

  • In a letter to Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), a number of health advocacy groups, food manufacturers, and food retailers have urged regulators to allow “potassium salt” to be used as a permitted synonym for potassium chloride on food labels.  As reported by FoodNavigator, the group argued that the addition of “potassium salt” to the Permitted Synonyms for Food Additives Table would reduce sodium intake in Canada because “a friendlier name would demystify the ingredient and help the industry achieve the dual goals of lowering sodium and increasing potassium intakes.”

  • The group argued that Health Canada’s current requirement for potassium salt to be labeled as “potassium chloride” on food labels is “inconsistent with growing consumer demands for clean label food ingredients and it could inhibit consumer acceptance of this salt substitute.” Indeed, the group found that in this era of clean labeling, consumers are becoming increasingly suspicious of “chemical-sounding” ingredients.  Relying on consumer research, the group maintained that some consumers mistakenly believe potassium chloride to be an “undesirable chemical substance” and one that should be avoided. Thus, food manufacturers are often hesitant to use potassium salt as a substitute when it must be declared as “potassium chloride.”

  • There is clear precedent for allowing the use of permitted synonyms on food labels.  The CFIA has previously established synonyms for a variety of other ingredients, such as “baking soda” for sodium bicarbonate and “lye” for sodium hydroxide.

  • As our readers may remember, the FDA received a similar request in 2016. NuTek Food Science filed a citizen petition requesting that the agency recognize “potassium salt” as a common or usual name for potassium chloride, and to permit the ingredient to be labeled as such on US food labels. FDA has yet to respond to NuTek’s petition, although former Commissioner Gottlieb hinted at support for the petition in March 2018 when he announced the Nutrition Innovation Strategy. FDA has publicly stated in multiple forums that they will continue to pursue the goals set forth in the Nutrition Innovation Strategy. As such, we will continue to monitor for any developments regarding the common or usual name of potassium chloride in the US and Canada.

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Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...