EC vetoes polyphosphates as fish processing aid

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food preservation

The European Commission has declared that polyphosphates (PPs) are additives and cannot be used as a processing aid in salted fish production.

The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) said it had received information that the substance is being employed in fish sector as a processing aid.

The group said the chemicals are classed as additives and their use in food processing must be approved under EC Regulation 1333/2008.

No technical effect

Polyphosphates function as sequestrant has an antioxidative effect and stabilises the white colour during the preservation of the fish. They are widely used to improve eating quality of meats and also used in making baking powder and cola drinks, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

In fish production, their main value lies in improving the retention of water by the protein in fish by reducing thaw drip – the amount of liquid released when frozen fish is thawed.

The Commission said that users claim the PP's are used as a processing aid because the substances have “no technological effect​” on the final product and that they are removed along with salt during the soaking of the fish with water before consumption.

Manufacturers further assert that PP’s are only present as a residue, at levels below the levels naturally present in fish and that there is no increase in weight as a result of the water binding, said the committee.

Additive not processing aid

But the group noted the views of a previous motion by Working Party of Governmental Experts on Food Additives of 18 February 2011 which disputed these claims.

“The majority of the Member States experts are of the opinion that the use of PPs during the processing and preservation of salted fish is an additives use,”​ said SCOFCAH. “The experts are not convinced that all PPs are sufficiently removed and that the use of the PPs has no effect on the final food as consumed by the consumer.”

It added that the soaking process which removes the PPs is not done by the producer but by another company or the final consumer, which means the product is “in trade with the added phosphates”.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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