By Judy Kirk, MS, RD, CSR, CDN
Chair of the National Kidney Foundation’s Council on Renal Nutrition
On May 20, 2016 the FDA announced its final changes to Nutrition Facts Label found on packaged foods. This not only great news for the general public looking to make healthier food choices, but a great win for kidney patients who often find it challenging to know how much potassium and calcium are in the foods they buy. The new labeling requires food manufacturers to list the amounts of potassium and calcium on the nutrition label beginning July 28, 2018. The timeline gives food manufacturers time to implement these monumental changes.
Calcium and potassium are vitally important to those at risk and with kidney disease. For those with hypertension, which affects 73 million Americans and can lead to kidney disease, increasing potassium and calcium intake might lower blood pressure. Eating more potassium-rich foods can prevent or delay the onset of high blood pressure. However, for the 26 million Americans with chronic kidney disease, too much potassium and calcium can have a negative impact on their health. They must reduce their dietary intake of both of those nutrients.
NKF has a long history of advocating for clearer food labeling. Most recently our efforts have included testifying at an FDA hearing on the topic, writing letters in response to the proposal, teaming up on the issue with the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and building coalition support from the kidney community to support these changes.
While we are disappointed that phosphorus was not also included on the labeling, we will continue to push the FDA to also require added phosphates be listed and to call for more research to investigate the link between phosphate additives and overall health of Americans.
To learn more about NKF’s advocacy on food labeling and the importance of these efforts to kidney health, visit our past blogs on the topic:
- NKF Supports Full Disclosure on Food Labels
- Proposed Food Label Changes May Help Kidney Patients Make Better Choices, but More is Needed
- Empowering Kidney Patients to Make Informed Food Choices: A Dietitian Goes to Washington on Behalf of NKF and Patients Everywhere