Phosphorous is the second most abundant element in the human body and is an essential dietary nutrient to ensure the proper functioning of the body. A balance diet he diet gets phosphorus from a variety of sources. Many foods are good sources of naturally-occurring forms of phosphorus including phosphate or phytate-based phosphates. Foods high in phosphorus include fruits, nuts, whole grains, leafy vegetables, meats, milk and eggs. Additional dietary sources of phosphorus originate from ingredients added to food products which enhance convince, safety, appearance and the flavor of foods commonly found in the supermarket. Phosphates are integral part of baking powder, meat marinating ingredients, American cheese, carbonated beverages, and dietary supplements.

Many food phosphate ingredients are recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). These ingredients were granted GRAS status because they are generally recognized, among experts qualified by scientific training and experience to evaluate their safety, as having been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of their intended use. Food phosphates provide unique functional and technical effects in a growing number of food products. The level permitted in foods is restricted to a level necessary to achieve the desired technical effects in the food systems, and this is limited by what are known as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

The use of Phosphate food additives have a long safe history of use and have been incorporated into many international food standards. For example, if one reviews standards of identity promulgated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), phosphates are used in pasteurized cheese products, ice cream, frozen custard, breads, rolls, buns, flour, macaroni products, fruit jellies and preserves and jams, frozen eggs, vanilla powder, as well as many indirect food uses for these substances.

The World Health Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations have developed a Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) to review the safety of all food additives including phosphates. This organization accessed the safety in respect to the potential exposure to phosphorus based food additives JECFA developed what is known as a maximum tolerable daily intake (MTDI) associated with phosphates in the diet, which are 70 mg/kg/bw/person/day. Surveys conducted by the International Food Additives Council (IFAC) from the years 1980 through 1994 have documented the actual decline of added phosphates in the diet of the United States population. This information indicates that phosphates added to the diet have remained constant for the 15-year period surveyed by IFAC and comprise about 10% of the MTDI, i.e., 7 mg/kg/bw/person/day. This is based on a population-adjusted figure for the substances when added to food in the United States. These IFAC data support the position that added food phosphates represent a consistently low (less than 10% of MTDI) dietary exposure for the last several years when adjusted for population increases.

In summary, phosphorus is an important nutrient in the diet. Phosphate based food additives have been deemed safe by the international regulatory community. Phosphate based food additives are used extensively to improve appearance, safety, and convince of food. Finally the use of phosphate based food additive has remained constant over the last several years.


Foods Phosphates – Nutritional Aspects