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Author Topic: Why would anyone put TSP into their foods??? (Trisodium Phosphate)  (Read 17839 times)

Offline Karen W.

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I was doing some research and know of this product we have cleaned with it over the years, Why would it be put into our food products for crying out loud?
What exactly is TSP otherwise known as trisodium phosphate ? Where do we get it?




I hate the idea of having so many things in my food! This I know as a cleaning product! Is it going to clean me out slick as a whistle??? OR IS IT GOING TO EVENTUALLY KILL ME???
« Last Edit: 08/10/2007 08:05:38 by Karen W. »


 

Offline eric l

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I was never a food specialist, but I have worked with phosphates in other applications.  So what I say here is from memory, from reading the complete product information (though focused mainly on other applications).
Phosphates in food are used for their buffering capacity and for helping to blend fats with other ingredients.
  • buffering capacity :  TSF makes possible the absorption of a lot of acid without changing the pH too much
  • blending fats and other ingredients TSF acts as an emulsifier by transforming lipids (=fats) into phospholipids which are less hydrophobic
(These are also reasons for using phosphates in the applications I was working on)
I don't know if it influences taste in any way - but because of its emulsifying properties it may influence mouthfeel.
I don't think that its effect on increasing the solubility of metal ions is important in food applications (but that is what makes Coca Cola a great rust remover).
And it can be used as a laxative, but this effect will be very limited in the amounts you may find in foodstuffs.
 

Offline Karen W.

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I was never a food specialist, but I have worked with phosphates in other applications.  So what I say here is from memory, from reading the complete product information (though focused mainly on other applications).
Phosphates in food are used for their buffering capacity and for helping to blend fats with other ingredients.
  • buffering capacity :  TSF makes possible the absorption of a lot of acid without changing the pH too much
  • blending fats and other ingredients TSF acts as an emulsifier by transforming lipids (=fats) into phospholipids which are less hydrophobic
(These are also reasons for using phosphates in the applications I was working on)
I don't know if it influences taste in any way - but because of its emulsifying properties it may influence mouthfeel.
I was never a food specialist, but I have worked with phosphates in other applications.  So what I say here is from memory, from reading the complete product information (though focused mainly on other applications).
Phosphates in food are used for their buffering capacity and for helping to blend fats with other ingredients.
  • buffering capacity :  TSF makes possible the absorption of a lot of acid without changing the pH too much
  • blending fats and other ingredients TSF acts as an emulsifier by transforming lipids (=fats) into phospholipids which are less hydrophobic
(These are also reasons for using phosphates in the applications I was working on)
I don't know if it influences taste in any way - but because of its emulsifying properties it may influence mouthfeel.
I don't think that its effect on increasing the solubility of metal ions is important in food applications (but that is what makes Coca Cola a great rust remover).
And it can be used as a laxative, but this effect will be very limited in the amounts you may find in foodstuffs.
I don't think that its effect on increasing the solubility of metal ions is important in food applications (but that is what makes Coca Cola a great rust remover).
And it can be used as a laxative, but this effect will be very limited in the amounts you may find in foodstuffs.

Eric do you mean the texture of the food!

These TSF what kind of a phosphate is it? Different then TSP???
 

Offline Karen W.

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Do we really need all that stuff in our food?When I was young I bought tons of boxed and canned foods! Now I rarely do. Mostly fresh fruit and vegetables and things fresh that you can snack on without having to cook to much. I love cooked food mind you. but really do prefer it fresh!---fresh meat veges fruit! i DO NOT LIKE CANNED FOOD MUCH AND AVOID IT WHEN POSSIBLE NOT TO SAY WE DON'T HAVE SOME. I HAVE TOMATO SAUCE RECENTLY BECAUSE  i HAVENT CANNED ANYTHING MYSELF FOR A WHILE!
« Last Edit: 08/10/2007 10:08:14 by Karen W. »
 

another_someone

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My understanding is that tri and di sodium phosphates are used to help water absorption in food (i.e. that it makes possible to bulk up the food by adding more water to it).
 

Offline Karen W.

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Ok What is the difference between tri and di? Sorry I keep making lots of typos I'm whipped cant sleep..day 3 have doctor appt.in 4 hours and I can't drive..taking forever to fix mistakes.
 

Offline eric l

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If I write TSF instead of TSP, that's simply because in Dutch we write "fosfaat" instead of "phosphate".  The error is mine.  (We have the same problem with phtalates)

You have monosodiumphosphates, disodiumphosphates and trisodiumphosphates.  The mono-, di- and tri- stand for the number of H+ions that are substituted by Na+ ions.  The main difference is that they buffer at different pH-values.

"Mouthfeel" is not exactly the same as "texture" :  "texture" is used as long as the product is not closer than your dish; in your mouth this can change rapidly due to the effect of saliva, of chewing...  Something may appear smooth enough on your dish, but much less so in your mouth.

The use phosphates for increasing the water absorption is a typical application of the increased miscability.  I suppose another_someone is referring to products like ham, which are quite fatty.  Poor miscability of water and fat would mean that the extra water would ooze out even at low temperatures.

I even heard of phosphates added to butter to increase the spreadability at low temperatures.  (In butter, water acts as a plasticizer - waterfree butter at room temperature is hard, it can be used in cooking but not for spreading.)  But I have no data to confirm this. 
 
 

another_someone

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The use phosphates for increasing the water absorption is a typical application of the increased miscability.  I suppose another_someone is referring to products like ham, which are quite fatty.  Poor miscability of water and fat would mean that the extra water would ooze out even at low temperatures.

I am referring to phosphates being added to cooked meat products in general (and even sometimes to raw meat products), but certainly, ham would be high up there on the list, but I have also heard of it added to beef (fat levels may be less than in ham, but certainly it would be significant).

I even heard of phosphates added to butter to increase the spreadability at low temperatures.  (In butter, water acts as a plasticizer - waterfree butter at room temperature is hard, it can be used in cooking but not for spreading.)  But I have no data to confirm this. 

Makes sense, although I had not heard of this before (I have anyway never used easy spread butters on the basis that butter naturally does not spread easily from the fridge, so whatever they do to make it spreadable must in some way be 'unnatural' (i.e. adding some non-butter component to achieve their ends - whether this be vegetable oils, or water with phosphates).
 

Offline Karen W.

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Thank you Eric and George! It seems so odd .. but then bulking it up probably means selling less product for more money eh?
 

another_someone

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Thank you Eric and George! It seems so odd .. but then bulking it up probably means selling less product for more money eh?

Bulking up has several advantages.

Yes, it means that you can sell the same amount of real product at a higher weight, and so charge more for it.

It also means you can claim the food has a lower fat content (because now you claim the water is part of the food, and the water is not fat, so the percentage fat has gone down - so now you label the food as a 'health' food with lower fat).

One question this does raise in my mind is why sodium (mono/di/tri) phosphates are still used, and have not been substituted for by potassium (mono/di/tri) phosphates - since this would also allow the claim of being a low sodium food (rather than the tendency these days for low fat foods to risk being labelled as high salt foods, because of their higher sodium content)?  Clearly, the potassium counterparts do exist, and are used by the food industry (they are I believe E339 and E340 respectively), but is there any reason why the sodium counterpart still is used, or is it beginning to fall out of favour, and it is only a matter of time before it has totally be superseded by its potassium counterparts?
« Last Edit: 18/11/2007 00:34:36 by another_someone »
 

Offline Karen W.

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I had no idea why they did all this.. It kind of bothers me!
 

Offline Alandriel

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You're not the only one Karen.  It bothers me a great deal when I read ingredient lists.

It bothers me even more when I can't find simple corn flakes on the supermarket shelves any more. Corn flakes, plain and simple, not with added sugar frosting, added this that or the other. It's sometimes not easy when looking for the bare basics.

Hydrogenated fats have recently come under intense scrutiny and I've read many articles condemming them, putting health warnings out to the public. Yet, they're still aplenty in any supermarket. I sometimes wonder how much negative effect has to be proved before products get recalled.

 

Offline Batroost

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Other uses for TriSodium Phosphate...

We have hundreds of kilos in porous bags in the bottom of our Reactor Containment Building! The idea is that if the Reactor Coolant System ever developed a leak, the TSP would re-balance the pH of the 1600 tonnes of slightly acidic water that gets pumped into the building to keep the core cooled (the water is lightly acidic because it is dosed with boric acid, a good absorber of neutrons).

The only real problem with the TSP is that it slowly absorbs water from the atmosphere - so the bags eventually swell and split.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Among all the food aditives tsp is one of those I'd be least bothered by. The body needs phosphate and is perfectly adequately adapted to deal with any excess. I probably get a lot more phosphate from cola than from TSP but there's very little that could count as food and which doesn't contain phosphate. Since it's a vital part of DNA it's present in all living things.

Except in the case of some unusually sensitive individuals the sodium isn't going to make any difference to your blood pressure.

One of the things TSP is used for is washing the carcases of chickens after butchering. This strips off some of the surface fat and, with that fat, a good fraction of the bacteria that could cause food poisoning.

The use of these products to increase water absorbtion is sharp practice to say the best of it but they are listed as ingredients; if you are that bothered by it, shop elsewhere (or go vegetarian- it's better for the environment too).
 

another_someone

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I probably get a lot more phosphate from cola than from TSP

Very possibly, but I don't drink cola (not for that reason - it is simply not something I have ever drunk, and generally do not tolerate fizzy drinks well).

The point is I have no problem with buying something that I know to be phosphate rich - if that is what I want to do.  I have a problem when lots of things I don't expect to have X, Y, or Z, in fact have such as an additive.  It is about having choices, choices that are transparent, and choosing what I consume, rather than having it surreptitiously added.

but there's very little that could count as food and which doesn't contain phosphate. Since it's a vital part of DNA it's present in all living things.

Not quite the same - you are comparing organic phosphate with inorganic salts.  Not saying one is better than the other, but they are not the same.

Except in the case of some unusually sensitive individuals the sodium isn't going to make any difference to your blood pressure.

Again, it is about making deliberate and transparent choices.

And, for those unusually sensitive individuals, the removal of transparency can be even more damaging to their life.

The use of these products to increase water absorbtion is sharp practice to say the best of it but they are listed as ingredients;

Nominally, they may be listed in the ingredients - assuming you can remember all the E numbers.

I say nominally, since ingredients are only listed on packaged food, not for food bought at the deli counter, and ingredients are only listed insofar as they are added by the food producer (i.e. a food producer that produces ham might list E340 on his ingredients list, but if another food producer includes that ham within a prepared food, he only lists ham, and does not list the E340 that went with it).

if you are that bothered by it, shop elsewhere

Assuming that elsewhere provides much by way of alternatives - given that most of the major producers will be providing similar products.  If you can find a specialist producer, almost certainly limited to specialist retailers, then you may be lucky; but by the nature of being specialist, they will not be available to most of the population.
 

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