EFSA has released a new guidance on phosphates which reveals that estimated total intake of phosphates from food may exceed the safe level set by EFSA after re-evaluating their safety. EFSA’s scientists also recommend the introduction of maximum permitted levels to reduce the content of phosphates when used as additives in food supplements as those who take them regularly may be at risk.
Phosphates are essential nutrients (a form of phosphorus), which are present naturally in the human body and are an essential part of our diet. A group of substances commonly referred to as “phosphates” are authorised as food additives in the European Union. They are added to a wide range of foods for “technological” functions (e.g. as emulsifiers, antioxidants). Some of them can be used in foods for infants and young children.
Dr Ursula Gundert-Remy, Chair of the working group on phosphates, said: “The panel has re-assessed the safety of phosphates and derived, for the first time, a group acceptable daily intake [ADI] of 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight [mg/kg bw] per day. “Because phosphates are also nutrients and essential to our diets, in our approach we defined an ADI which considers the likely phosphorus intake from various sources, including natural sources and food additives.”
The ADI corresponds to an intake of 2.8 grams of phosphorus per day for an average adult weighing 70kg.
Dr Maged Younes, Chair of EFSA’s expert Panel on Food Additives and Flavourings (FAF), said: “Importantly, the ADI does not apply to people with moderate to severe reduction in kidney function, which is considered a vulnerable population group. This conclusion is based on the recognised effect of high phosphate intake on the kidney.”