The launch of a new sodium alternative has sparked a debate on the use of potassium chloride in bread.

Volac’s sodium and sugar replacer Volactose Whey Permeate contains 2.6% potassium and is labelled a ’high-performance cross-category sodium and sugar replacer’, which can be used in a wide variety of better-for-you pro-ducts, including breads and sweet biscuits.

However, while potassium chloride is a legal addition to bread, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is not a fan. Despite pushing bakers to seek alternatives to sodium chloride, a spokeswoman said: "The FSA does not encourage the use of sodium chloride (salt) substitutes/replacements based on potassium, because we are keen that people’s palates adjust to less salty foods. Using a replacement such as potassium chloride does not assist this taste adjustment."

She added: "For people with kidney problems and children who have immature kidneys, too much potassium in the diet can have health implications."

Stanley Cauvain, director and vice-president R&D activities at BakeTran, said most plant bakers would have tried potassium chloride in the last 10-15 years and recognised its limitations regarding a characteristic bitter potassium flavour. "This limits its level of addition and when sodium chloride levels are lower, then the flavour impact becomes more pronounced," said Cauvain.

Mark Neville, Volac’s marketing manager, dairy and lifestyle ingredients, said it had a number of customers in the UK, mainly in the bakery sector, using products from the Volactose range. "It is clear that there is a need for us to adjust palates to lower sodium products. The potassium level in Volactose Whey Permeate is already very small and thus unlikely to pose a threat to health."

He added that as more attention was paid to sodium content, not labelling sodium on front of pack had a positive impact. "Within ingredients labelling you can label whey permeate in a number of ways, including ’whey solids’ or ’milk solids’. Dairy-derived ingredients gene-rally have good connotations in relation to bakery products," said Neville.