Prevalence of Phosphorus-Based Additives in the Australian Food Supply: A Challenge for Dietary Education?

Jemma McCutcheon, Katrina Campbell, Maree Ferguson, Sarah Day, Megan Rossi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Phosphorus-based food additives may pose a significant risk in chronic kidney disease given the link between hyperphosphatemia and cardiovascular disease. The objective of the study was to determine the prevalence of phosphorus-based food additives in best-selling processed grocery products and to establish how they were reported on food labels. 

Design: A data set of 3000 best-selling grocery items in Australia across 15 food and beverage categories was obtained for the 12 months ending December 2013 produced by the Nielsen Company's Homescan database. The nutrition labels of the products were reviewed in store for phosphorus additives. The type of additive, total number of additives, and method of reporting (written out in words or as an E number) were recorded. Main Outcome Measures: Presence of phosphorus-based food additives, number of phosphorus-based food additives per product, and the reporting method of additives on product ingredient lists. 

Results: Phosphorus-based additives were identified in 44% of food and beverages reviewed. Additives were particularly common in the categories of small goods (96%), bakery goods (93%), frozen meals (75%), prepared foods (70%), and biscuits (65%). A total of 19 different phosphorus additives were identified across the reviewed products. From the items containing phosphorus additives, there was a median (minimum-maximum) of 2 (1-7) additives per product. Additives by E number (81%) was the most common method of reporting. 

Conclusion: Phosphorus-based food additives are common in the Australian food supply. This suggests that prioritizing phosphorus additive education may be an important strategy in the dietary management of hyperphosphatemia. Further research to establish a database of food items containing phosphorus-based additives is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-444
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Renal Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


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