Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Why kebabs could be facing the chop amid concerns around food additives

Kebabs could soon get the chop as concerns are raised about the additives used in them.
Kebabs could soon get the chop as concerns are raised about the additives used in them.
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Serious concerns are being raised by European politicians about the health impact of phosphates used in food additives, including those in kebabs.

Serious concerns about the health impact of phosphates used as food additives have been raised by Health Committee MEPs in recent days. 

They objected to a European Commission proposal to allow the use of phosphoric acid, di and tri phosphates and polyphosphates (E 338-452) in kebab meat - be it mutton, lamb, veal, beef or poultry.

And now the European Parliament could veto an EU Commission proposal to allow phosphates in kebab meat, due to health concerns. MEPs will debate the topic tonight and vote tomorrow.

If Parliament as a whole backs the committee’s objection by an absolute majority (376 votes), the proposal will be blocked and the EU Commission will have to go back to the drawing board.

EU rules do not generally permit the use of phosphate additives in meat preparations. But due to an accumulation of exceptions, they are increasingly being used in them, to protect flavour and retain water.

MEPs point out that a 2012 scientific review showed a potential link between phosphate additives in food with increased cardiovascular risk.

A European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) assessment however stated that it is not possible to attribute this risk to phosphorus intake in general or phosphate additives. But another scientific study from 2013 also suggested a link between high-phosphorus diets and increased mortality in the US population.

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The resolution was passed by 32 votes to 22. Parliament as a whole is to vote on it at this week's plenary session in Strasbourg. The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has said that it will re-evaluate the safety of phosphates food additives by December 31, 2018.

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