What Is Trisodium Phosphate?
Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is a common food additive used in processed foods such as canned soups, frozen dinners, and many other packaged meals. TSP is added to prevent spoilage and improve shelf life of these products. It is also commonly found in condiments like ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, mayonnaise and others. It is often called “dietary salt” because it is made from sodium chloride, which is the same substance found in table salt.
The main ingredient in trisodium phosphate is phosphoric acid, which is a colorless or pale yellow crystalline solid. It does not dissolve well in water so it must be added to foods before they are eaten. When dissolved into liquid form, it forms a white powdery consistency known as phosphates. The FDA allows up to 0.5% of the final weight of food to contain phosphates.
Most foods have less than 0.2%.
Phosphates are naturally occurring substances in some plants and animals, but most come from animal manure and excrement. They are generally considered safe for human consumption when consumed in small amounts, since they do not cause any significant changes in blood sugar levels or affect cholesterol levels. However, excessive intake can lead to kidney damage and high blood pressure.
In most products containing trisodium phosphate, it is used to inhibit the growth of bacteria and mold. It also increases the boiling point of food, which allows canned food manufacturers to heat canned foods to a higher temperature to kill harmful bacteria.
Why Is Trisodium Phosphate Added to Food?
Trisodium phosphate is an ingredient found in some processed foods. It is most commonly used as a water softener in products that contain salt, such as bread and processed meats. It is also used as a flavor enhancer in certain types of cheese and dried milk.
TSP is also used to reduce the cloudiness in drinks like beer. The type of phosphate used in this manner is known as sodium aluminum phosphate and has been approved by the FDA for use in food since 1972.
Some food manufacturers also use trisodium phosphate when canning foods because it prevents the cans from rusting and improves the safety of the final product. It also acts to preserve freshness and improve the taste of canned foods.
Trisodium phosphate is sometimes used as a cleaning agent in industry to degrease machinery, remove oil from concrete, and clean drains.
Is Trisodium Phosphate Safe to Consume?
Trisodium phosphate (TSP) is considered safe for human consumption by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but some people may experience allergic reactions.
Excessive intake of TSP can cause adverse health effects and should be avoided. Adults should not consume more than 2 grams of phosphate per day, while children should not consume more than 0.5 grams per day. Over-consumption can lead to high blood pressure, diarrhea, and kidney problems.
In the United States, trisodium phosphate is classified as a generally safe ingredient. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has labeled it as “safe”, though they also note that it may prevent the body from absorbing some nutrients.
Is Trisodium Phosphate in Soda?
Phosphoric acid is a common ingredient in sodas, though it is usually listed as the generic “phosphate” rather than trisodium phosphate. It is used to add an acidic flavor and improve mouthfeel.
In the United States, phosphoric acid has been found to be a major factor in the development of dental erosion in adolescents. Some studies have also found that drinking beverages containing phosphoric acid can decrease the risk of bone fractures in elderly women.
Is Trisodium Phosphate in Beer?
Sodium aluminum phosphate is sometimes used as a clarifying agent in beers, though its use is infrequent due to its cost. It can be used in beers where cloudiness is problematic, such as wheat beers.
Can You Eat Trisodium Phosphate?
Although trisodium phosphate is considered safe for human consumption by the U.S.
Sources & references used in this article:
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The in vitro bactericidal effects of the food decontaminants lactic acid and trisodium phoshate by TS Kanellos, AR Burriel – Food microbiology, 2005 – Elsevier
Effects of sodium lactate and trisodium phosphate on the physicochemical properties and shelf life of low-fat Chinese-style sausage by KW Lin, SN Lin – Meat Science, 2002 – Elsevier
Effect of trisodium phosphate solutions washing on the sensory evaluation of poultry meat by R Capita, C Alonso-Calleja, M Sierra, B Moreno… – Meat science, 2000 – Elsevier
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