How to Avoid Phosphate Additives

How to Avoid Phosphate Additives
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The vast majority of chicken and poultry products are injected with phosphorus preservatives, which are often not listed in the ingredients. Reducing one’s intake of meat, junk food, fast food, and processed cheese may help lower intake until labeling is mandated.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

How often is poultry injected with phosphates? The vast majority of chicken products—more than 90%—were found to contain these additives, and most of the packages of meat did not list the additives on their label.

Sometimes they call the phosphate additives “flavorings” or “broth,” and sometimes the labels don’t say anything at all. If they do list them, it will probably be one of these. I’d recommend minimizing one’s intake of anything with those four letters: p, h, o, s. They’re also used in a lot in junk foods and fast food. 

This one has phosphorus and aluminum. You see this a lot in processed cheese. One grilled cheese sandwich, and we may exceed the World Health Organization’s provisional tolerable daily intake of aluminum by 428%, in one sandwich.

And, the food industry no longer has to list phosphorus content on the Nutrition Facts label.There certainly have been calls from the public health community to “mandate that [the] phosphorus content of foods be included [back] on [the] nutrition facts labels.” Good luck with that.

All these studies “bring home the same strong message: phosphorus-containing additives are present in most meat products and significantly increase the phosphorus content… Moreover, the lack of this information in the Nutrition Facts labels,” and even in nutrition databases, “prevents patients and dietitians from accurately estimating food phosphorus content and intake.” So, as if animal products weren’t bad enough already, the added phosphates may bring them up to here.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to estherase via flickr

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

How often is poultry injected with phosphates? The vast majority of chicken products—more than 90%—were found to contain these additives, and most of the packages of meat did not list the additives on their label.

Sometimes they call the phosphate additives “flavorings” or “broth,” and sometimes the labels don’t say anything at all. If they do list them, it will probably be one of these. I’d recommend minimizing one’s intake of anything with those four letters: p, h, o, s. They’re also used in a lot in junk foods and fast food. 

This one has phosphorus and aluminum. You see this a lot in processed cheese. One grilled cheese sandwich, and we may exceed the World Health Organization’s provisional tolerable daily intake of aluminum by 428%, in one sandwich.

And, the food industry no longer has to list phosphorus content on the Nutrition Facts label.There certainly have been calls from the public health community to “mandate that [the] phosphorus content of foods be included [back] on [the] nutrition facts labels.” Good luck with that.

All these studies “bring home the same strong message: phosphorus-containing additives are present in most meat products and significantly increase the phosphorus content… Moreover, the lack of this information in the Nutrition Facts labels,” and even in nutrition databases, “prevents patients and dietitians from accurately estimating food phosphorus content and intake.” So, as if animal products weren’t bad enough already, the added phosphates may bring them up to here.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to estherase via flickr

Doctor's Note

This is the third of a three-part video series on phosphate additives added to meat and junk food. The first, Phosphate Additives in Meat Purge & Cola, described the risk for the general population associated with the consumption of these preservatives, and compared the phosphorus levels of various foods. In my previous video, Phosphate Additives in Chicken, I described the food safety implications (beyond the cardiovascular and kidney concerns).

I’ve previously touched on the aluminum in cheese in Aluminum in Vaccines vs. Food. Of even more concern, though, are the levels of lead in venison (see Filled Full of Lead) and mercury in tuna (see The Effect of Canned Tuna on Future Wages).

For further context, check out my associated blog post: Where are Phosphate Additives Found?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

34 responses to “How to Avoid Phosphate Additives

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      1. If I recall correctly (from my training), deferoxamine is also used to chelate copper in Wilson’s disease and mercury in organic mercury poisoning, but since my knowledge base is dated, I may be completely wrong!

    1. Curses. The only almond milk I liked was 365, largely because Ca3(PO4)2 didn’t impart the same chalky taste to creamed soups as the CaCO3 used in other brands.

      1. How about yogurt? I cannot find any non-dairy yogurt which does not have tri-calcium phosphate in it. So Delicious, WholeSoy, Silk Live all list tricalcium phosphate in their ingredients. It is very frustrating. I became vegan to be healthy but I can’t seem to avoid these additives unless I make my own home-made almond or soy milk.

        1. Yep, I’ve looked at 8 brands. The tricalcium phosphate (TP) doesn’t seem neccessary from a preservative, buffer, or emulsifying agent standpoint, its there to approach and even exceed dairy yogurt’s calcium (Ca) content.

          The amount varies from Almond Dream providing 20% of the Ca DV in 6 oz to WholeSoy with 50% of the DV in 8 oz. In the later case, the 10 g of soy protein would naturally provide 8% of the Ca requirement, so 42% of the Ca is from the added TP. Using the 1000 mg Ca RDA for 19-50 year old adults as the DV, that’s 420 mg Ca and 216 mg inorganic phosphorus from the TP. Nearly the equivalent of four 12 oz cans of cola.

          1. Why does there seem to be no information here on the constant pumping of ortho-polyphosphate into municipal water supplies? It is supposed to “insulate” water in the pipes from coming in contact with lead and copper materials in the pipes and connections, all the way to our faucets.

        2. Email the companies that add this to their products and let them know you have stopped buying their said products until they remove the try-calcium phosphate (just a suggestion. but this approach has worked for other questionable ingredients over the years).

          1. Great idea Elsie ! I will do that. Darryl, thanks for the info. In the meantime I checked my almond milk that I buy. It’s called “Califa Farms” brand. It does not have any phosphate but it mentions “calcium carbonate.” Is that also a curse?

      2. Darryl, I noticed that my smoked paprika also contains, in addition to paprika, silicon dioxide and ethoxyquin. Wasn’t able to find out anything about these two additives. Do you know anything offhand about their safety?

        1. Silicon Dioxide is found through out nature and studies show it to be very safe. Ethoxyquin is a double ringed pesticide also used in spices to avoid change in color. It is not used in Europe due to health concerns. I would avoid as much as possible.

          1. Thanks Don. For some reason I have the vague feeling that Silicon Dioxide is glass, but perhaps I am wrong. As to ethoxyquin, I did a pubmed/medline search and found a wealth of studies confirming what you said – it damages DNA. I am throwing out that smoked paprika pronto!

            1. The FDA’s estimate of cancer risks from ethoxyquin use as a spice preservative was less than 0.000002.

              The dose makes the poison. If I threw out all the foods that contained known natural carcinogens (in rodents, at high doses), these would have to go:

              Allspice, anise, apple, apricot, banana, basil, beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cantaloupe, caraway, cardamom, carrot, cauliflower, celery, cherries, chili pepper, chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, coffee,collard greens, comfrey herb tea, corn, coriander, currants, dill, eggplant, endive, fennel, garlic, grapefruit,grapes, guava, honey, honeydew melon, horseradish, kale, lemon, lentils, lettuce, licorice, lime, mace, mango, marjoram, mint, mushrooms, mustard, nutmeg, onion, orange, paprika, parsley, parsnip, peach, pear,peas, black pepper, pineapple, plum, potato, radish, raspberries, rhubarb, rosemary, rutabaga, sage, savory,sesame seeds, soybean, star anise, tarragon, tea, thyme, tomato, turmeric, and turnip

              1. That’s a great perspective. I did not know any of that, although I did know that the dose makes the poison and that rat carcinogencity testing is extremely controversial (and probably doesn’t predict even mouse carcinogencity, let alone human carcinogenicity). Ames has a competing test (patented?) that does not rely on intact animals and thus he has ‘skin in the game’ – though that doesn’t mean he isn’t right on with his comments.

              2. Darryl, what is your opinion then of organic produce and pesticides/herbicides/fungicides? Should we follow the same principle as in ethoxyquin and forgo the much higher prices of organic produce? (at least here in Canada, during the winter, the prices are dramatically higher for organic, and I’ve always wondered if it’s worth it). Thanks for your input.

  1. Iam so thankful Dr Greeger to your videos and series you done..in that way i learn so much for true health and much more the nucleus of nutritions…..Dr Emma.

  2. Dr. Greger,

    I was going to ask… I know that a type of protein tryptophan is highest in meat and cheese, and this protein helps keep people awake during heavy periods of work. I’m at university studying architecture and do alnighter’s occasionally. in addition to a good strong coffee? It helps lol.

    What I was going to ask is? Is there any evidence that states that cheese such as Mozzarella and Parmesan isn’t as damaging as other cheese? Because I hear it doesn’t harm Lactose intolerant people anywhere near as badly as other forms of cheese.

    Maybe a video such as “the least harmful cheese” video might suit people and help them ween off of the stuff.

    I myself only ingest it for short term benefit whilst I have heavy loads of work to be doing. We architects in England have the same grueling workloads as you medicine folk. It can be tricky.

  3. Dr. Greger, you’ve clearly stated on many occasions over the years that chicken is full of toxins and other things we want to avoid. I want to know, is organic chicken any safer or better? We eat a lot of organic chicken and organic eggs. Are these foods any safer and cleaner?? They are raised and fed differently, and I can taste a difference, and the texture is different than conventionally raised chicken. I also notice a difference in how I feel when I’ve eaten organic versus non-organic chicken. Are there any studies showing the levels of the toxins and flame retardants in organic chicken and eggs? Thanks for answering my questions.

  4. Dr. Greater, I would like to download some of the charts with graphics to keep in my kitchen. Could you have an area here on the website that would have the charts? Best I can do right now is phone photo which does not always come out clearly.

  5. When having kidney disease they tell you to stay away from phosphate…. Please explain and where is it found or in?

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