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Phosphates that are naturally present in muscle tissue play an important role in rigor mortis of meat and fish following death of an animal, the degradation of ATP (Adenosine tri-phosphate) causes a contraction and stiffening of muscle tissues, which also results in the release of enclosed water from the muscle tissue. So phosphates are additives which are used to improve the quality of many foodstuffs, but specifically meat and seafood.

polyphospahes, prawns, phosphates testing

With regards to seafood (prawns), 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. The practical relevance of this 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. Once polyphosphate breaks down, it is breaks down to naturally occurring monophosphate and so it cannot be easily distinguished from normal phosphate. With this new NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) test, it is able to pick up the degradation products (assuming samples have been stored correctly) to be able to detect the di-phosphates and tri-phosphates which denotes the use of polyphosphates.

This service detects the amount of 'added' phosphates in seafood products, distinguishing between the naturally occurring levels of phosphates and the level of added phosphates. In prawns, Monophosphate is naturally occurring, where as di-phosphate and tri-phosphate are not, therefore the detection of diphosphate and tri-phosphate in prawns would confirm the use of polyphosphates. This newly developed NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) based test can successfully differentiate between the different forms of phosphates in prawns. The test has been validated in-house.




Polyphosphates NMR 10 working days

Key Capabilities

  • We have extensive scope of UKAS (ISO17025) accredited tests with the ability to obtain the necessary UKAS accreditation with our 'flexible scope' approach
  • Specialists in unusual matrices, method development and validation
  • Technical advice and support pre and post analysis
  • Fera is the National Reference Laboratory in 7 different areas
  • Consultancy - if you have questions about polyphosphates detection development, market acceptance, the regulatory environment, sometimes it requires another experienced person or team to help pull things together and move them ahead. Fera's consultancy service is made up of senior scientists who have broad and deep experience in the authenticity arena that we can bring to bear on your research project which goes beyond analysis and scientific expertise.

To speak with us about our services, or for any services not listed, please contact the Customer Service Group

T: + 44 (0)300 100 0323 | E:

Download Polyphosphate Analysis Fact Sheet

Download our latest Fact Sheet on our new Polyphosphate Analysis in Prawns.


Meet the Expert

Dr James Donarski is a well respected food authenticity scientist, leading our Food Authenticity division.

We can offer the following studies;

  • Polyphosphates using NMR analysis techniques

Telephone: +44 (0)300 100 0323

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