Potassium’s Growing Profile

Why the addition of potassium is one of the changes to the Nutrition Facts Label in 2018 and how to add it to your product’s food label while also reducing sodium.

Potassium is an important mineral for your health, but most American’s don’t get enough of it.[1] It is recommended that adults consume 4,700 milligrams of dietary potassium a day as part of a balanced diet.[2] However, men consume an average 3,200 milligrams per day of potassium, and women consume an average 2,400 milligrams per day.[3]

Potassium is essential.[4] According to this list published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, our bodies need potassium to:

  • Build proteins
  • Break down and use carbohydrates
  • Build muscle
  • Maintain normal body growth
  • Control the electrical activity of the heart
  • Control the acid-base balance[5]

The regulations regarding nutrients listed on the nutrition facts labels of packaged foods are changing in 2018.[6] New rules include declaring the amounts of potassium and vitamin D in a product, while the requirements already in place for calcium and iron amounts will continue.[7] In 2018, the inclusion of amounts of vitamins A and C will be optional.[8]

According to the American Heart Association, scientists are continuing to learn of the significant role potassium plays in lowering blood pressure.[9] While potassium may play a key part in lowering blood pressure, it needs to work in concert with decreased sodium intake, along with ensuring proper intake of other nutrients including dietary fat, cholesterol, protein and fiber, calcium and magnesium.[10]  The addition of potassium, along with the other 2018 updates to the nutrition facts label, will provide consumers with information to help them make knowledgeable choices.[11]

Potassium chloride, which may be used as a replacement to salt and thereby lower the sodium content of certain foods,[12] has been affirmed as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a direct human food ingredient, based upon the current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) conditions of use.[13]

Cargill’s portfolio includes many potassium chloride (KCl) ingredient options, which may help manufacturers achieve sodium reduction in some food products while maintaining taste. For example, the FlakeSelect® product has a compacted flake particle that is roughly 50% sodium chloride and 50% potassium chloride (KCl). This unique ingredient may provide the functionality many food formulators need to reduce sodium and maintain flavor.

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[1] American Heart Association. “About Sodium: A Primer on Potassium.” Accessed on 4 Apr 2017. Retrieved from https://sodiumbreakup.heart.org/a_primer_on_potassium

[2] American Heart Association.

[3] American Heart Association.

[4] U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Potassium in Diet.” Review date 24 Apr 2016. National Institute of Health; Medline Plus. Accessed on 4 Apr 2017. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002413.htm

[5] U.S. National Library of Medicine.

[6] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label.” Last updated 3 Apr 2017. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed on 4 Apr 2017. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm

[7] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label.”

[8] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label.”

[9] American Heart Association.

[10] American Heart Association.

[11] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label.”

[12] Cargill Salt. “Reduce Sodium and Increase Potassium Together.” Food Processing InPerspective. Accessed on 4 Apr 2017. Retrieved from https://cargillsaltinperspective.com/reduce-sodium-increase-potassium-together/

[13] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, Volume 3, 21CFR184.1622.” Last reviewed 1 Apr 2016. Accessed on 4 Apr 2017. Retrieved from   https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=184.1622&SearchTerm=potassium%20chloride