That night, approximately 30 minutes past the dinner hour, I noticed some unobtrusive pain beginning in various points of my body. As the minutes progressed, pangs became more noticeable and lasted approximately two hours. Since this was the newest addition to my plate, I immediately knew the culprit. I spent the next morning in an internet frenzy trying to find out a bit more on this preservative.
Disodium phosphate is used primarily as a food additive for stabilization, emulsification, and phosphate fortification. It can also be used for industrial purposes as a corrosion inhibitor, as a pesticide ingredient and in industrial and other cleaning products. Although it's safe in the form in which it's added to food products, disodium phosphate in its pure form can sometimes be toxic on contact or if ingested.
Disodium phosphate prevents or slows down the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms on foods. It also acts as a protein coagulate, helping form semi-soft foods such as pudding, and an emulsifier, helping compounds mix. In addition, it provides phosphate fortification and decreases the cooking time of products such as pastas and hot cereals.
Listed under names like "sodium phosphate," "calcium phosphate" and "phosphoric acid," there are 45 different phosphate-containing food additives used in hundreds of processed foods, and unless you're a dedicated ingredient-list reader, you'd have no idea they're there. Food companies aren't required to list phosphate levels on the "Nutrition Facts" panel on packaged foods—they're not even required to analyze foods for phosphate levels at all.
Usage has been scientifically linked to chronic kidney disease and increased mortality rates. Phosphate additives have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, they're thought to accelerate the aging process, and they interfere with the way your body activates vitamin D. Too much phosphorous can also lead to weakened bones.
Need advice? We all need to eat less phosphorous, especially inorganic compounds such as disodium phosphate. The best way to avoid it is to read labels. Read your labels for any words containing 'phos-,' and limit your fast-food consumption.