CREATED BY NATURE. NURTURED IN SCIENCE.
Driven by our dedication to simplicity, transparency and sustain¬ability, NuTek Natural Ingredients’ mission is to create solutions that support the nutritional and clean label demands of a growing global community. We use natural ingredients to make products clean and address consumer needs, product integrity and food safety. Our product solutions also address the demand for plant-based solutions.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people think about their health. Good health and nutrition have become a priority in supporting the immune system which impacts the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. NuTek Natural Ingredients is on a journey to improve health and nutrition through sodium reduction by using potassium salt.
This journey begins nearly 3,000 years ago—the earliest records of salt harvesting and production. Over the many years, the modern uses for salt have changed the way food is processed and manufactured creating a need for change to a healthier salt—potassium salt.
News about the coronavirus outbreak and the havoc it has wreaked on the world has caused fear for our health and caution to avoid the spread. It has devastated families, shut country borders, and ravaged the world’s economy. While more is being continually discovered about COVID-19, studies about the virus have, thus far, shown that the most common underlying condition in the mortality rate of most COVID-19 patients includes cardiovascular disease. The U.K. Office for National Statistics reported 91% of those who died of COVID-19 had at least one underlying condition, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported 90% of people hospitalized had at least one underlying condition—the most common of which includes CVD. In the shadows of world news, far less is being said about how consumers can prevent the grave effects of disease by living a healthy lifestyle and eating clean-label foods.
One company has been working to impact the global health crisis by developing ingredi¬ents that are created by nature, nurtured in science, cost effective, and offer clean label opportunities. NuTek Natural Ingredients started as a company focused on solving the over-consumption of salt in processed foods and restaurants. They have answered the public’s call for natural ingredients to provide clean label and healthy solutions. With core values of simplicity, transparency, and sustainability, NuTek Natural Ingredients creates solutions that support the nutritional demands of our growing global population.
With the goal of finding a great tasting alternative to salt, NuTek focused on developing a healthy solution with the same functionality as salt but without the negative effects of so¬dium. Studies have shown that over-consumption of sodium leads to heart disease, the #1 cause of death globally. The challenge for NuTek in creating a solution to solve the sodium problem is that salt is not just used to provide flavor. Salt is also used for preservation, to control fermentation rates, for protein extraction, and to stabilize and strengthen gluten in breads. NuTek’s solution had to provide the same functionality and taste as sodium, but without the negative health impacts. What we know as common salt is actu¬ally sodium chloride (NaCl) to be exact; 40% sodium and 60% chloride. In our bodies it balances our electrolytes and fluids, carries nutrients to our cells, sup¬ports the transportation of nerve impuls¬es throughout our bodies and regulates our blood pressure.
Salt has been heavily used in the food system for years because of its very low cost and essen¬tial functions in food production. Consumption levels globally surpassed the recommendations of many health or¬ganizations. There are salt regulations and salt taxes, legislation to control the abundance in our foods, and education to make people aware of the dan¬gers of consuming too much salt. In conclusive studies, both governmental and private agencies around the world have determined that large amounts of sodium in the food system are contributing to a global crisis of high blood pressure leading to cardiovascular diseases. In fact, more people die annually from cardiovascular disease than any other cause.i Within the U.S. alone, projections are that by 2035, nearly half of the population will have some form of cardiovascular disease at an annual cost of $1.1 trillion.ii
So if all of this is known about salt, and salt is such an important part of our everyday lives, why aren’t we outraged by the nearly 2.5 million deaths per year globally attributed to high blood pressure caused by an abundance of salt in our diet?iii Efforts by the World Health Organization (WHO), World Action on Salt, Sugar and Health (WASSH) and Con¬sensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) have been made to raise awareness about the dangers of high levels of salt in the food system. But their efforts haven’t been enough.
The solution to this health crisis seems simple. Eat less salt.
In the U.S. and many other countries, the majority of salt consumption does not come from the salt shaker. In fact, the USDA reports that 80% of the sodium Americans con¬sume comes from packaged, processed and restaurant foods.iv Removing salt can impact taste and texture which negatively impacts consumer acceptance and consumption. Re¬moving salt can also impact food safety, functionality, shelf life and yield which increase food costs. Although reducing salt in foods prepared at home is a positive step towards improved health, the greatest impact in sodium reduction is reducing salt in foods we buy at the grocery store and our favorite restaurants.
Like sodium chloride, potassium chloride (KCl), is a crystalline solid with a salty taste. It is a natural mineral consisting of two elements; 53% potassium (K) and 47% chloride (Cl). It is sourced from some of the same places as salt, and it is used for the same functions as salt. Because potassium chloride has a slightly undesirable metallic taste, innovative suppliers of the mineral have developed ways to remove the metallic taste through pat¬ented processes, while others mask the metallic flavor by adding expensive herbs or flavor maskers.
There is, however, a very important difference between the two salts—sodium chloride and potassium chloride. While an excess of sodium consumption can lead to heart attacks and stroke, the role of potassium is to regulate blood pressure, balance fluid and cellular integrity, and maintain normal heart rhythms among other benefits. In the U.S. and most everywhere in the world, potassium is under-consumed due to a modern diet of highly processed foods. Potassium occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables, but to get the amount that is needed daily for a balanced diet, most cultures fall significantly short of the recommended amount of 4,700 milligrams (mg) per day.v
While salt has been a staple in our diets for thousands of years, potassium chloride has not been accepted as openly with the general public despite the breakthroughs in removing the metallic flavor. Consumer awareness of potassium chloride is low, and only a small percentage understand that potassium chloride can be used as a 1:1 substitute for salt (sodium chloride). Yet when asked, 80% of consumers would prefer to have potassium chloride in their food than sodium chloride to reduce their overall sodium level. Studies have shown that the term “potassium chloride” is not popular with consumers. Although sodium chloride is referred to as “salt”, potassium salt was referred to as “potassium chloride” leading consumers to believe that it was not a clean ingredient since “chloride” sounded like a chemical.
In 2016 NuTek Food Science, today doing business as NuTek Natural Ingredients, was on a mission to reduce the negative effects from over-consuming sodium by introduc¬ing potassium chloride into the manufactured food system. Their intent was to remove some salt and replace it with potassium chloride to balance the over-consumption of sodium with the under-consumption of potassium. When balanced, these two salts work in tandem to regulate fluids and blood pressure in the body. To make a positive impact, the partial replacement of at least 33% sodium chloride with potassium chloride is necessary. Studies show that the ratio of sodium to potassium - rather than reducing sodium alone - is a contributing factor to maintaining a healthy heart. But while sodium is commonly over-consumed by nearly 50% each day, potassium is under-consumed by nearly 56%.
To change the perception that consumers had with potassium chloride sounding like a chemical ingredient, NuTek Natural Ingredients wanted to provide an alternative name for potassium chloride that would be acceptable with the food industry and perceived as clean to consumers. After conducting consumer surveys, the results showed that “potassium salt” was preferred as a clean, natural ingredient over “potassium chloride.” Following those re¬-sults, in a citizen’s petition submitted to the FDA and backed by major food manufactur¬ers, NuTek entered a request for “potassium salt” to be an additional common or usual name for potassium chloride and to allow “potassium salt” on ingredient labels.vi
The FDA responded with draft guidance of their own proposing “potassium chloride salt” as the alternative name for “potassium chloride” in the ingredient statement. It was clear that the FDA understood the extremely important and highly problematic issue of potas¬sium chloride labeling and the importance of replacing sodium chloride with potassium chloride within the food system. It was also clear that the FDA recognized the health benefits that potassium chloride can provide. But the FDA’s proposed name missed the mark and seemed to be more problematic than the usual name “potassium chloride.”
With support behind NuTek’s petition from trade associations, advocacy groups, aca¬demic research institutes and major food companies, the FDA reconsidered their pro¬posal. On December 18, 2020 the FDA issued revised guidance. The guidance gives food manufacturers the discretion of using a new, more consumer-friendly name on their ingredient label. Potassium Salt. In a statement from the FDA, they said, “We have made these changes with the following considerations in mind: potential public health benefits to the U.S. population from reduced sodium and increased potassium intake, the recogni-tion that potassium chloride can substitute for sodium chloride in a variety of food man¬ufacturing applications across a number of food categories, and the unlikelihood that the alternate name will mislead consumers.vii
With the support of the FDA and other regulatory bodies around the world to encourage the use of potassium salt to reduce sodium over-consumption, the food industry is chang¬ing with trends and diets, developments, and breakthroughs in science. The solution is at hand with one of the most life saving and far reaching yet stealthily handled changes in the food system. The future looks bright for better health by making a clean swap to potassium salt.
Find out more
Visit us at NuTekNatural.com or call us at 952-683-7600
This paper is intended for educational information only and should not be considered medical advice. All language presented in this piece is reflective of what is considered accurate for the U.S. market.
i. World Health Organization Website, 2014; https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heartpublic/@wcm/@adv/documents/downloadable/ucm_491543.pdf
iii. World Health Organization. (2020, April 29). WHO Newsroom. Retrieved from www.who.int: https://www.who.int/newsroom/fact-sheets/detail/salt-reduction
iv. Ahuja, J. K. (2015). Monitoring Sodium and Selected Nutrients in U.S. Foods.
v. How potassium can help control high blood pressure. (2016, October 31). Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-bloodpressure/how-potassium-can-help-control-high-blood-pressure
vi. Requests that the FDA issue guidance (as opposed to rulemaking) recognizing “potassium salt” to be an additional common or usual name (as opposed to the exclusive name), so that entities will be able to vol¬untarily choose if and/or when to implement the use of “potassium salt” in their labeling – instead of being required to use “potassium salt” by a specified compliance deadline, FDA Docket ID: FDA-2016-P-1826, (2016, June 28)vii. Fusaro, D. (2020, December 29). Industry News 2020. Retrieved from www.foodprocessing.com: https://www.foodprocessing.com/industrynews/2020/fda-allows-potassium-salt/