KANSAS CITY — Potassium soon will appear more often on food and beverage packaging in the United States but creating a product that qualifies as a “good source” or “excellent source” of potassium will remain as challenging. Formulators may consider encapsulating the mineral, and they also should be aware potassium may help in sodium reduction efforts.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 considers potassium a nutrient of public health concern because low intakes are associated with health issues. The Food and Drug Administration beginning in 2020 will make it mandatory for companies with $10 million or more in annual sales to list potassium on the Nutrition Facts Label. Smaller companies will have until 2021. Adequate potassium intake is beneficial in lowering blood pressure, and intakes of the nutrient also are low among some population groups, according to the F.D.A.
The Daily Value for potassium is increasing to 4,700 mg from 3,500 mg.
“The estimate right now is that greater than 98% of the American population is not meeting the new Daily Value for potassium,” said Alice Wilkinson, vice-president of nutritional innovation for Watson, Inc., West Haven, Conn., in a webinar earlier this year.
Food companies may achieve a claim of a “good source of potassium” in a product if it contains 470 mg of potassium per serving, which would be 10% of the Daily Value. Ms. Wilkinson noted, however, that potassium often comes attached with another mineral. She gave the example of potassium chloride, which is 52% potassium. To achieve the “good source of potassium,” formulators thus would need to add 903 mg of potassium chloride, not 470 mg. Other examples were dipotassium phosphate at 45% potassium and potassium citrate at 36% potassium.
“So, in food products (potassium and its partners) take up space, and space is kind of critical, and (potassium) can have some pretty negative effects on pH, change the color of your product, definitely change the flavor of your product,” she said. “Potassium typically kind of tastes salty, but it’s got a bitter note that comes along with it that’s not pretty and can be really, really challenging to use in a fortified product because of that.”
Encapsulations have been shown to reduce the interactions and the flavor issues associated with potassium, Ms. Wilkinson said.
Two opportunities to add potassium into products are reduced sodium applications and leavening systems.
Cargill, Minneapolis, conducted market analysis that showed 47% of the products made with potassium chloride meet the threshold to make a nutrient content claim about sodium reduction. Claims regulated by the F.D.A. include “low sodium” (less than or equal to 140 mg sodium per Reference Amount Customarily Consumed), “very low sodium” (less than or equal to 35 mg per RACC serving than regular comparative food) and “sodium free” (less than 5 mg sodium per RACC serving). Claims for potassium are “good source” if a product contains 10% to 19% of the Daily Value for potassium per RACC serving and “excellent source” if the product contains 20% or more.
Cargill offers Potassium Pro potassium chloride that has been shown to reduce sodium by up to 50% in applications while also helping companies reach “good source” or “excellent source” of potassium in their products.
Jungbunzlauer, Basel, Switzerland, offers a sub4salt line of products that uses blends of salt with potassium-based salts to provide 35% to 50% sodium reduction when used as a 1:1 replacement for salt. The products include combinations of potassium chloride, potassium gluconate and potassium citrate.
Church & Dwight, Inc., Ewing, N.J., offers Flow-K potassium bicarbonate, a food-grade potassium bicarbonate composed of a proprietary flow aid system that assures excellent storage and handling properties, according to the company. It allows for reduced sodium levels while maintaining overall quality and flavor. The product commonly is used in the leavening system for cakes, muffins and cookies.