Why are some food labels missing potassium?

Oof, this is a really frustrating one for me. Years ago, you almost NEVER saw potassium listed on a nutrition facts label. Then one day, the FDA announced that it was going to start requiring potassium to be listed on the Nutrition Facts label. For anyone who has ever had to watch their potassium intake, this was such a big win! Dietitians around the country rejoiced! 

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And then we started checking labels and realized that they don’t all have potassium listed. What the heck? 

Turns out, the rules aren’t so black and white. 

First off, the FDA doesn’t actually regulate all the food we eat. The USDA covers some foods….and the USDA does not require that potassium be listed. So any food that is covered by USDA rules won’t necessarily tell you how much potassium is in them. 

And I want to be REALLY clear about something. 


I repeat: The absence of potassium on the food label does not mean that there is no potassium in it. I’ve seen foods where potassium is literally listed as an ingredient, but there is no potassium listed on the food label. Obviously this food will have potassium in it.

There are a lot of foods that contain quite a bit of potassium that won’t tell you about it. Meat and poultry items are big culprits here. Did you know that a 4oz portion of raw chicken thighs has 273mg of potassium in it? That’s kind of a lot. Another example is when a food product contains meat or poultry. A good example of this is pizza. If you look at a veggie pizza or a cheese pizza, it will more than likely tell you how much potassium it in it. However, if you look at a meat pizza from that same brand? It may not tell you how much potassium – because they don’t have to! One pizza has to follow the FDA rules while the other pizza has to follow the USDA rules. 

Clear as mud right? 

The good news is that the potassium content of foods may not need to be a concern for you. I’ve said it before (and I’ll probably say it again in the future), but just because you have kidney disease, does not mean you need to be super careful of your potassium intake. Your potassium levels could be fine, or it could be something completely unrelated to the potassium content of your foods that is causing your high potassium levels. Talk to your doctor or dietitian. 

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