Joint SACN/COT Potassium-based Sodium Replacers Working Group

Last updated:
15 February 2016
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) and The COT sub-group has been formed to prepare integrated risk benefit advice on potassium.

Background

Currently, the use of potassium-based replacements for sodium salts is not recommended since it has been considered preferable gradually to reduce salt levels in food products to allow the palates of consumers to become accustomed to lower salt levels. In addition, increasing potassium levels in food might have adverse effects in some vulnerable groups including very young children, the elderly and individuals with kidney disease, all of whom might be at risk of hyperkalaemia due to immature or impaired kidney function, particularly since many individuals with impaired kidney function may not have been diagnosed.However, industry has asked the Department of Health to reconsider this view, as there are a number of foods for which further reformulation to reduce sodium levels is not possible, particularly where the sodium is present for functional as well as taste purposes (such as in raising agents and preservatives).

The COT were asked by SACN to advise on the potential effects of increased potassium intakes in vulnerable groups. This was in support of a SACN review of the use of potassium-based replacements for sodium chloride and sodium-based additives as part of the Government’s overall salt reduction strategy.

Terms of reference

  • COT and SACN to work together to undertake a risk-benefit analysis of the use of potassium-based sodium replacers in foods, with particular consideration of the effects in vulnerable groups;
  • Based on that risk-benefit analysis, to agree integrated advice for SACN to provide to the Department of Health.

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