Phosphorus is an element which naturally occurs in rocks, soil, water and living organisms. Phosphates are essential to the growth and health of all living bodies (humans, animals and plants) and are the key elements for building structures of DNA, bones, teeth, cells and nervous system. They are useful to many biochemical processes, cellular energy cycles, photosynthesis in plant cells. In human organisms phosphates also regulate the body's acidity, help to absorb vitamins, prevent fat deposits in our arteries and also enable our muscles to contract when we move.

Functionalities of phosphates

There are many application fields in food where phosphates are used like meat and fish, bakery, dairy, anti-caking, mineral enrichment and others where we used various functionalities of phosphates bringing quality stabilization or improvement to the food.

  • Buffering capacity – stabilize the pH of foods and drinks at required level and prevents the right profiles of natural color, flavor and taste from chemical or light degradation.
  • Complexing (sequestering) effect – prevents ions present in the foods and water from reaction with the food components and later degradation during the production process or shelf life
  • Leavening – used with food acids, produce gas during baking process
  • Texture improvement – provide smooth and proper emulsification of proteins, fats and water in dairy products
  • Activation of meat proteins – restore the water binding and emulsifying properties of meat proteins for better yield and structure of processed meat
  • Anti-caking – improve the free-flowing properties of dry blends
  • Mineral enrichment –source of minerals like Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Ferrous and others

Phosphates are naturally present in most of our food such as

  • Fish and meat
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Grains
  • And, in small amounts in fruits and vegetables

Selecting the right phosphate for your application

There are many factors and parameters that are important during the process of selecting the right phosphate for the right application. When working with single phosphates the important questions are about expected performance of phosphates, what they have to bring to the formula and what kind of properties are required. The basic questions to consider when selecting the right phosphates for a product are:

What is the exact application?

  • Solubility – in some applications or short processes there is a need for high and fast solubility of the phosphate (examples brine for injection, processed cheese, UHT cream)
  • pH – what is the expected pH of the food product and how phosphate can influence it
  • type of phosphate
  • interaction of phosphate with the formula (pH adjustment, ion exchange, buffering, sequestering, free flowing, others)


At Brenntag Food & Nutrition, we comply with safety regulations and requirements of your industry. We adhere to ISO guidelines, follow HACCP food codes, and provide full documentation for each additive for total confidence in these products.

Get in touch

Our Food Experts are dedicated to connecting our customers to phosphates for the development of new products. Contact Brenntag Food & Nutrition to learn more about the use of phosphates in your products.

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