Research Original Research: Brief| Volume 118, ISSUE 5, P878-885, May 2018

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Sodium-Reduced Meat and Poultry Products Contain a Significant Amount of Potassium from Food Additives

Published:January 06, 2018DOI:



      Sodium-reduced packaged food products are increasingly available to consumers; however, it is not clear whether they are suitable for inclusion in a potassium-reduced diet. For individuals with impaired renal potassium excretion caused by chronic kidney disease and for those taking certain medications that interfere with the rennin-angiotensin aldosterone axis, the need to limit dietary potassium is important in view of the risk for development of hyperkalemia and fatal cardiac arrhythmias.


      The primary objective of this study was to determine the impact of the reduction of sodium in packaged meat and poultry products (MPPs) on the content of potassium and phosphorus from food additives.


      This was a cross-sectional study comparing chemically analyzed MPPs (n=38, n=19 original, n=19 sodium-reduced), selected from the top three grocery chains in Canada, based on market share sales. All MPPs with a package label containing a reduced sodium content claim together with their non-sodium-reduced packaged MPP counterparts were selected for analysis. The protein, sodium, phosphorus, and potassium contents of sodium-reduced MPPs and the non-sodium-reduced (original) MPP counterparts were chemically analyzed according to the Association of Analytical Communities official methods 992.15 and 984.27 and compared by using a paired t test. The frequency of phosphorus and potassium additives appearing on the product labels' ingredient lists were compared between groups by using McNemar’s test.


      Sodium-reduced MPPs (n=19) contained 44% more potassium (mg/100 g) than their non-sodium-reduced counterparts (n=19) (mean difference [95% CI): 184 [90-279]; P=0.001). The potassium content of sodium-reduced MPPs varied widely and ranged from 210 to 1,500 mg/100 g. Potassium-containing additives were found on the ingredient list in 63% of the sodium-reduced products and 26% of the non–sodium-reduced products (P=0.02). Sodium-reduced MPPs contained 38% less sodium (mg/100 g) than their non–sodium-reduced counterparts (mean difference [95% CI]: 486 [334-638]; P<0.001). The amounts of phosphorus and protein, as well as the frequency of phosphorus additives appearing on the product label ingredient list, did not significantly differ between the two groups.


      Potassium additives are frequently added to sodium-reduced MPPs in amounts that significantly contribute to the potassium load for patients with impaired renal handling of potassium caused by chronic kidney disease and certain medications. Patients requiring potassium restriction should be counseled to be cautious regarding the potassium content of sodium-reduced MPPs and encouraged to make food choices accordingly.


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      A. S. Parpia is a hemodialysis dietitian, Diabetes Comprehensive Care Program, St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


      M. B. Goldstein is an emeritus professor, University of Toronto, and the medical director of hemodialysis, St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


      J. Arcand is an assistant professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


      F. Cho is a technical manager, Scientific Services, Maxxam Analytics, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.


      M. R. L’Abbé is the chair, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


      P. B. Darling is an assistant professor, School of Nutrition Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.