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Polyphosphates Analysis

New Polyphosphates Analysis

How do polyphosphates help fish processing



A phosphate is a salt of phosphoric acid. When a number of simple phosphate units are linked to form a more complex structure, this is known as a polyphosphate. Polyphosphates are naturally occurring in all forms of life. Polyphosphates may also include other elements, such as sodium, potassium and calcium to form compounds such as sodium polyphosphate (E452(i)), potassium polyphosphate (E542(ii)) and calcium polyphosphate (E542(iv) also 544).

Polyphosphates are legally permitted additives that are widely used to aid processing or to improve the eating quality of many foods, particularly meat and fish products.

  • Phosphates that are naturally present in muscle tissue play an important role in rigor mortis of meat and fish
  • Adding polyphosphates to the seafood once caught proves very useful in increasing the quality and shelf life of the product as it improves their water-binding capacity
  • Polyphosphate treatment of fish before freezing often reduces the amount of thaw drip, that is the liquid released when frozen fish is thawed. Good quality fish, properly frozen and cold stored, normally develops little thaw drip. Poor quality fish when frozen and thawed may drip much more, and treatment will reduce the loss to some extent
  • An outcome of polyphosphate treatment is a significant gain of weight caused by the retention/uptake of water and natural juice into the fish tissues. This practice is legal; however, the use of phosphates has to be declared


Know the Law


With the ever increasing consumer demand for frozen fish, the EU's demand for imported fish and fishery products, growing dependence on imports, due in part to reduction of home supply from European waters, Polyphosphates are potentially going to become more prevalent in the vast majority of product supplied.

  • Freezing is the main processing method for fish for human consumption, accounting for 54% of total processed fish (FAO, 2014)
  • Frozen fish for human consumption accounts for 25% of total fish production (FAO, 2014)

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