Derivatives of orthophosphoric acid or polyphosphates are substances that have found their application not only in the field of food production for the population, but also in other sectors of the industry: in the production of varnishes and paints, refractory surfaces, household chemicals. Today, the additive is increasingly used precisely to impart appropriate properties to various chemicals, and less and less often - for food. Nevertheless, nutritional supplements under the code E452 are still found in the composition of food purchased in stores and in the markets, as they are still effective stabilizers and emulsifiers, and are considered relatively safe for humans.
The history of the origin of polyphosphates, their chemical properties and methods of obtaining
The substance was first discovered at the end of the 19th century by German researcher Lieberman in yeast cells. At that moment there was still no urgent need to synthesize food additives on an industrial scale, so the discovery did not receive much resonance. The identified element was investigated, gradually studying its properties. In the 40s of the 20th century, the production of polyphosphates from orthophosphoric acid acquired a significant scale: the emulsifying and stabilizing effect of substances, as well as their relative safety for humans and the environment, opened the way for them to the food industry, and, as it turned out, to the chemical industry.
In modern production, the additive is used as an emulsifier, stabilizer, water-holding component, color lock, fiber degreaser, water softener, as an element of various detergents.
Polyphosphates, as salts of metal ions, in the cells of the human body are responsible for regulating the amount of cations, and also participate in the process of platelet formation. Partially depends on them the level of blood clotting.
To obtain the substance, phosphoric acid is first combined with the acid salt of a particular metal, after which the process of dehydration of this organic compound occurs, most often by heating. Another way is to neutralize the acid with ammonia. Ammonium polyphosphate is synthesized in this way.
Externally, the substance appears as a white or colorless powder, consisting of crystals, granules, plates or flakes.
Ammonia polyphosphate has a slight ammonia odor, other types of polyphosphates have no odor and taste. The substance dissolves well in water and in an acidic environment.
Varieties of food supplements E452
The production of polyphosphates can occur with the use of various chemical substances: potassium salts, calcium, hydrogen nitride, and others. There are these types of substances:
- sodium polyphosphate or Graham salt;
- potassium polyphosphate (Currol salt);
- sodium-calcium polyphosphate;
- calcium polyphosphate;
- ammonium polyphosphate.
Use of a component in production
The food industry is slowly but surely moving away from the addition of the substance E452 to the composition of its products. However, polyphosphates can still be found in this food:
- frozen fish and seafood;
- fresh, dried and processed fruits, canned fruits and potatoes (a substance used to compact the fibers);
- processed cheeses and some types of hard (to impart heat resistance);
- bakery products with yeast (polyphosphates have a nutritive function for yeast, improve the consistency of bread, increase the weight of the finished product);
- sausages and sausages (in them the substance retains moisture, and also allows you to keep the original color);
- milk, including dry and condensed milk, ice cream and dairy desserts (emulsifier E452 helps to give products a uniform consistency);
- fish and canned meat (to slow down oxidative processes);
- flavored soft drinks, dry mixes for athletes, milk-based drinks.
The use of polyphosphates is designed to improve the taste of the product, extend its shelf life and increase its amount at the exit.
In addition to value for food production, the additive is commonly used in the manufacture of refractory coatings. E452 prevents the spread of fire and reduces the flammability of the treated surface.
In the composition of the toothpaste component is also found. Manufacturers claim that polyphosphates protect tooth enamel from acids and also prevent the formation of tartar and plaque.
In cleaning products (powders, gels, creams) the substance is added to soften water and prevent the formation of scale, for example, in washing machines. In addition, the sodium polyphosphate in the composition of washing powders and gels allows you to avoid the acquisition of things gray or brown after washing. Substance treat metal parts, as it prevents the occurrence of corrosion. The addition of polyphosphates to the flowing water interacting with metal coatings also saves them from rust. Often substances are used to protect various cooling systems. For softening drinking water, the additive is not suitable.
Sodium polyphosphate has found its use also in photo printing, in the pharmaceutical and textile industry, in agriculture as a fertilizer.
Ways of packing substance
Producers of the substance store and transport it in various containers. The main requirement for any type of packaging - the presence of the inner layer of polyethylene. E452 can be stored in multi-layered paper bags and bags, in food bags made of synthetic yarns (in these you can usually see sugar, cereals or flour), in cardboard boxes. Transportation and storage is also allowed in plastic containers, but made exclusively from food-grade plastic.
Safety of the substance, possible harm from use
Despite the fact that polyphosphates are widely used in various types of production, they are in daily contact with humans and the environment, they are only conditionally safe substances. Their use in food is acceptable, but only in limited quantities.
On average, the maximum amount of supplements consumed per day should not exceed 70 mg per 1 kg of adult weight. Especially useful substances do not bring, however, are involved in the process of blood formation in the human body.
Food supplement E452 is approved for use in Ukraine, Russia and several European countries. However, studies of polyphosphates in recent times are increasingly giving alarming results: they indicate that the use of polymers of orthophosphoric acid has a negative effect on the human body, since it contributes to the accumulation of phosphates in the body. Phosphates, in turn, are carcinogenic and provoke the appearance of tumors. The harm of polyphosphates lies in the fact that the additive can increase the level of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, thereby causing vascular and heart diseases.
Constant use of a stabilizer in a dosage exceeding the allowed one leads to problems with digestive function, to dehydration of the body, to a breakdown of metabolic processes in the cells. There is evidence of the possible occurrence of diarrhea, intestinal dysfunction, vomiting overdose by polyphosphates.
International standards for the content of polyphosphates in food
Given the relative safety of a substance, its quantity in human food is strictly regulated by the legislation of the European Union, the Customs Union and the rules of each specific country at the domestic level. For example, legislative requirements in the Russian Federation suggest that no more than 20 g of E452 food additive can be contained in bakery products per 1 kg, and no more than 1 g per 1 kg of mass in milk, ice cream and alcoholic beverages, in macaroni, cheeses and butter - up to 2 g per 1 kg of the finished product.
Judging by current trends, the era of polyphosphates in food gradually ends. Today, the manufacturer, although interested, in the first place, in its own profit, still gradually refuses to add the substance to food products. Studies show that an element that is contained in small quantities in the human body and even participates in it in important processes is still not completely safe. As a water softener, anti-corrosion agent, fertilizer and antiscale agent, polyphosphates are used much more often today.
When buying products, it will not be superfluous to carefully examine the composition indicated on the package for the presence of a component with E452 code - if it is detected, the consumer will most likely be able to find an alternative that is safer for their own health.