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Public Comments Urge FDA to Allow “Potassium Salt” as Alternative Name for “Potassium Chloride” in Food Labeling

Food manufacturers, including Nestle USA and Kraft Heinz, have submitted public comments on FDA’s draft guidance regarding the use of “potassium chloride salt” as an alternative common or usual name for potassium chloride. The comments opposed the use of “potassium chloride salt” and urged the agency to choose “potassium salt,” asserting that the term meets the common or usual name requirements at 21 CFR 102.5 and is better received by consumers.

As our readers may remember, the issue of potassium chloride labeling arose in a 2016 citizen’s petition filed by NuTek Food Science. NuTek’s petition had requested that FDA permit “potassium salt” as a common or usual name for potassium chloride because of consumers negative associations with the word “chloride.”  FDA has acknowledged that wider use of potassium chloride as a salt replacement could help reduce sodium intake and increase potassium intake and therefore, in May 2019, responded to NuTek’s petition with draft guidance proposing the term “potassium chloride salt” as a compromise.

Many of the public comments noted consumer suspicion of the term “chloride.” Indeed, one consumer survey conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation found that shoppers rated “potassium salt” as safer, healthier, and tastier than “potassium chloride salt.” Similarly, the survey found that names of ingredients that contained both potassium and chloride were perceived as least safe, with 47% of consumers ranking “potassium chloride” and 38% ranking “potassium chloride salt” as least safe.

At least one comment urged FDA to revise their guidance and require potassium chloride to be labeled as such. Morton Salt stated that “salt is the common or usual name for sodium chloride, and potassium chloride is the common or usual name for potassium chloride that consumers recognize on our food nutritional labels and that is accepted by industry.” The comment period closed on September 17, 2019. Keller and Heckman will continue to monitor this issue.

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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...