Banned in Europe but Not the US- Phosphate Additives in Chicken

Image Credit: snowpea&bokchoi / Flickr. This image has been modified.

Phosphate Additives in Chicken Banned Elsewhere

In my video Phosphate Additives in Meat Purge and Cola, I talked about the danger of phosphorus additives in food. However, when surveyed, most future medical professionals were insufficiently aware—in fact, two-thirds had no clue—of the risks related to prolonged high dietary phosphate intake. Even if they knew it was a problem, they didn’t know which foods had added phosphates. 99% knew that sugar was added to soda, but only 7% knew that phosphates were added. I bet even fewer knew that it’s injected into most packages of meat.

Though this practice remains banned in Europe, 11 different phosphate salts are currently allowed to be injected into meat and poultry in the United States. This despite the fact that phosphate is considered an arterial toxin—causing our arteries to stiffen up within just two hours of consumption. Phosphate additives may also make poultry more dangerous from a food safety standpoint.

Phosphate additives may increase the number of Campylobacter bacteria in chicken exudates. Chicken exudate is the same as poultry purge (colloquially known as chicken “juice”), “the fluid that seeps out from processed poultry carcasses and is often found to be contaminated with considerable numbers of Campylobacter bacteria. It is comprised of water, blood, fats, and other materials added to the poultry during processing.” If chicken isn’t injected with phosphate, the exudates seeping into the package may grow about 100 Campylobacter bacteria. But, add some phosphate to the carcass, and up to a hundred million bacteria may grow.

Why does adding phosphate to poultry increase the number of Campylobacter bacteria? It may be because phosphates increase the survival of Campylobacter—by 100 fold or more. The infectious dose for Campylobacter has been shown to be as little as 500 organisms. How much might there be in chicken? 100,000 can be easily recovered from washes of whole chicken carcasses.

So what does a million times more food-poisoning bacteria mean for the risk to consumers? A mere hundred fold increase in these fecal matter bacteria can mean a thirty fold difference in the number of human outbreaks of Campylobacter, which can leave patients paralyzed (see my video Poultry and Paralysis). But, if the poultry industry doesn’t add phosphates, how are they (in their words) going to “enhance the moisture absorbance, color, and flavor of the meat and reduce product shrinkage?”

Other concerning additives used by the meat industry include asthma-type drugs (Ractopamine in Pork), bacteria-eating viruses (Viral Meat Spray), larvae (Maggot Meat Spray), Arsenic in Chicken, nitrosamines (Prevention Is Better Than Cured Meat), and antibiotics (Drug Residues in Meat).

Since phosphate additives don’t have to be listed on the nutrition label, how do we avoid them? All in my video How to Avoid Phosphate Additives.

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 – 2015 presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More than an Apple a Day, From Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

11 responses to “Phosphate Additives in Chicken Banned Elsewhere

Comment Etiquette

On, you'll find a vibrant community of nutrition enthusiasts, health professionals, and many knowledgeable users seeking to discover the healthiest diet to eat for themselves and their families. As always, our goal is to foster conversations that are insightful, engaging, and most of all, helpful – from the nutrition beginners to the experts in our community.

To do this we need your help, so here are some basic guidelines to get you started.

The Short List

To help maintain and foster a welcoming atmosphere in our comments, please refrain from rude comments, name-calling, and responding to posts that break the rules (see our full Community Guidelines for more details). We will remove any posts in violation of our rules when we see it, which will, unfortunately, include any nicer comments that may have been made in response.

Be respectful and help out our staff and volunteer health supporters by actively not replying to comments that are breaking the rules. Instead, please flag or report them by submitting a ticket to our help desk. is made up of an incredible staff and many dedicated volunteers that work hard to ensure that the comments section runs smoothly and we spend a great deal of time reading comments from our community members.

Have a correction or suggestion for video or blog? Please contact us to let us know. Submitting a correction this way will result in a quicker fix than commenting on a thread with a suggestion or correction.

View the Full Community Guidelines

  1. I’ll watch the video but why do I eat foods where I don’t absorb the nutrients. How do I decide what is enough or worse too much.

    1. Nature has a way of given you what you need and holding back what you don’t need. The added chemicals in food is too much. They throw off homeostasis in the body. You will absorb the phosphorus you need from plant-based foods and the phosphorus you don’t need will not be highly bioavailable.

  2. NO!!! Not my favorite chicken please. I’ll take this as a wake up call. Does this mean going with organic helps? Coz, I’m thinking just by the looks of the food at our local grocery, it may seem fresh. But I really couldn’t tell which ones to consider. Perhaps, sticking with the greens is better. Not to mention, I have also learned from how good these vegetables are.

    1. Andrea: re: “I’ll take this as a wake up call.” That’s a great idea, because this is only way in which your chicken is so bad for your health. You can learn the other ways by doing some research on this site.

      but, “Perhaps, sticking with the greens is better.” No need to limit yourself so severely! Greens are part of just one of the 4 main food groups!: fruit, veggies, grains, and legumes. The other two food groups which should be eaten in moderation (1-2 oz/day) are: seeds and nuts. Here are Dr. Greger’s nutrition recommendations for optimal health:

      Note the lack of any meat, dairy and eggs – regardless of whether or not the products are organic. You can learn all the reasons why on this site. It really is an eye opener. I hope you are able to use this information to start eating healthy. You will find that you can eat lots of really great yummy foods. Let me know if you would like some practical advice on how to get started.

      1. Hi Thea. Thank goodness you’re not taking eggs away from me. I have started having enough green, eggs, lean pork, and bananas. So far, my body has been doing better. I feel so much better now.

        1. Andrea: I have no interest in taking any food away from anyone. But it seems like there is a misunderstanding. So, just to clarify was I was explaining to you: I was strongly recommending that you remove all meat, dairy and eggs from your diet in order to maximize your health probabilities. Eggs are especially bad, as you can see in the videos and articles on this site.

          Anyway, I’m glad you are feeling better. Good luck.

    1. Phosphates were banned in detergent because they did not dissipate in water. By the same chemical mechanism, phosphates do not dissipate in the human gut and can cause severe gas, cramping, and bloating.
      An entire pharmaceutical section has grown around solving these symptoms, known by the medical name of IBS (or in other words, we don’t know what’s causing this).
      I know, because I was a victim, and so was my friend. We both stopped eating phosphates, and our symptoms magically disappeared! Immediately! So, Stop eating phosphates. If it isn’t safe for detergent, it isn’t safe for you to eat!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This