Phosphates in our foods: benefits and risks

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Author: Mária Szeitzné Szabó

1. Summary

Phosphorus-containing food additives are authorized substances widely used in the food industry, the use of which has many technological advantages. For a long time, these compounds had been regarded as practically harmless, however, recently more and more research results warn us that their extensive use and increasing consumption increases the risk of certain civilization hazards, such as cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis at the population level. This publication clarifies the authorization process of these additives and the role of phosphates, presents some results of related research and formulates recommendations to prevent potential risks.

2. Introduction                    

Towards the end of 2017, the media threshold was reached by a news article of professional background about the possible ban on the use of phosphates in certain foods. As usual, news headlines were exaggerated, sensationalist and easy to misunderstand (e.g, „EP would kill doner kebab”; „Kebab is banned in the European Union”, „Doner discrimination taking place”). However, only a few journalists took the trouble to uncover the credible professional background. The legal dispute was not about prohibiting the use of phosphates in kebab, but about its possible authorization. The reason for this was that the issue had been omitted when drafting the relevant EU regulation, therefore, the use of phosphates in this product was not lawful. A professional debate emerged, because more and more scientific evidence suggests that the increasing use of phosphorus-containing additives may have a negative impact on health at the global level, and so further expansion of the product range is not desirable.


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