Phosphorus-Containing Food Additives in the Food Supply: An Audit of Products on Supermarket Shelves

Minttu Tuominen, Heini J Karp, Suvi T Itkonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Phosphorus (P)-containing food additives pose a risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. We aimed to investigate the prevalence of P-containing additives in the Finnish food supply across different food categories to evaluate their burden in CKD, reflecting the situation in Europe.

METHODS: The dataset of 6,176 products was obtained in June-August 2019 from the website, which contains all foodstuffs sold in the grocery stores of the S Group (46% of the Finnish market share in 2019). The food category, full product name, type of P additive (inorganic, organic, and natural P-containing), and reporting methods (name or E number) of P additives were recorded. Duplicates and products lacking ingredient information were excluded.

RESULTS: The prevalence of P additives was 36% in the final sample (n = 5,149). Among food categories, the prevalence varied from 4% in dairy-based snacks to 67% in meat products. Altogether 17 different P additives were observed. Inorganic P additives were the most common P additive type, present in 20% of foodstuffs. Natural P-containing additives were observed in 19% and organic P additives in 2% of foodstuffs. The most commonly used P additives were lecithin (E 322), pyrophosphate (E 450), and triphosphate (E 451). E number was used as a reporting method in 49% of foodstuffs, and full name in 44% of foodstuffs. Reporting by E number was particularly common in the products containing inorganic P.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of P additives is common in the Finnish food supply, indicating the situation in Europe. The high prevalence of inorganic, that is, the most absorbable and potentially most harmful P additives in particular food groups, and their usual reporting only by E numbers can create challenges in CKD dietary counseling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-38
Issue number1
Early online date14 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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