Re-evaluation of phosphoric acid–phosphates – di-, tri- and polyphosphates (E 338–341, E 343, E 450–452) as food additives and the safety of proposed extension of use

phosphates, phosphorus, food additive, acceptable daily intake, risk assessment, safety
First published in the EFSA Journal
12. Juni 2019
4. Juni 2019
Scientific Opinion


The Panel on Food Additives and Flavourings added to Food (FAF) provided a scientific opinion re-evaluating the safety of phosphates (E 338–341, E 343, E 450–452) as food additives. The Panel considered that adequate exposure and toxicity data were available. Phosphates are authorised food additives in the EU in accordance with Annex II and III to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008. Exposure to phosphates from the whole diet was estimated using mainly analytical data. The values ranged from 251 mg P/person per day in infants to 1,625 mg P/person per day for adults, and the high exposure (95th percentile) from 331 mg P/person per day in infants to 2,728 mg P/person per day for adults. Phosphate is essential for all living organisms, is absorbed at 80–90% as free orthophosphate excreted via the kidney. The Panel considered phosphates to be of low acute oral toxicity and there is no concern with respect to genotoxicity and carcinogenicity. No effects were reported in developmental toxicity studies. The Panel derived a group acceptable daily intake (ADI) for phosphates expressed as phosphorus of 40 mg/kg body weight (bw) per day and concluded that this ADI is protective for the human population. The Panel noted that in the estimated exposure scenario based on analytical data exposure estimates exceeded the proposed ADI for infants, toddlers and other children at the mean level, and for infants, toddlers, children and adolescents at the 95th percentile. The Panel also noted that phosphates exposure by food supplements exceeds the proposed ADI. The Panel concluded that the available data did not give rise to safety concerns in infants below 16 weeks of age consuming formula and food for medical purposes.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Maged Younes, Gabriele Aquilina, Laurence Castle, Karl-Heinz Engel, Paul Fowler, Maria Jose Frutos Fernandez, Peter Fürst, Rainer Gürtler, Trine Husøy, Wim Mennes, Peter Moldeus, Agneta Oskarsson, Romina Shah, Ine Waalkens-Berendsen, Detlef Wölfle, Peter Aggett, Adamasco Cupisti, Cristina Fortes, Gunter Kuhnle, Inger Therese Lillegaard, Michael Scotter, Alessandra Giarola, Ana Rincon, Alexandra Tard and Ursula Gundert-Remy.
Panel on Food Additives and Flavourings
fip [at]
EFSA Journal 2019;17(6):5674
On request from
European Commission