Phosphorus-containing additives are present in most poultry meat products and significantly increase the phosphorus content of such products. It’s also added to beef to preserve the red color of the meat. Sadly today in the United States, the food industry no longer has to disclose this additive to the general consumer. So how do we learn how to make smarter purchasing decisions when it comes to buying meat for our dogs with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?
Why Do They Add Phosphate?
So why add it in the first place?
Phosphates are a type of compound that includes the mineral phosphorus, which is naturally found in many foods. They are used in many meat products as well as processed foods to enhance flavor, plump up the meat, improve texture, change the color, change the meat’s pH and prevent spoilage.
Not only does the meat look better, it also ups the moisture content and …. when it weighs heavier, it increases yield, i.e. it generates more money.
How do they do it? Phosphates are often used in the form of salts, such as sodium phosphate, calcium phosphate, and potassium phosphate. These salts can act as emulsifiers (to prevent the separation of ingredients), buffers (to maintain acidity levels), as an antioxidant to preserve red coloring in beef products, and humectants (to maintain moisture).
Is It Labelled?
Legally it doesn’t have to be disclosed. If it is, you may find it listed as:
- Sodium phosphate
- Monosodium phosphate
- Disodium phosphate
- Trisodium phosphate
- Sodium hexametaphosphate
- Sodium tripolyphosphate
- Tetrasodium pyrophosphate
- Sodium acid pyrophosphate
- Dicalcium phosphate
- Monocalcium phosphate
- Tricalcium phosphate
- Calcium phosphate
- Dipotassium phosphate
- Potassium phosphate
This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of what to look for. Remember that any ingredient with “phosphate” in its name is a type of phosphate. It may also be hidden in “broth” or “flavorings”.
How To Avoid It?
Buying from local farms and call them. Ask them if they inject their meat with phosphates.
When local isn’t an option, call the companies you buy your meat from. But know that it won’t always be clear because while your grocery store may not add it, the company they buy their meat from might.
Where Does That Leave Us?
If you suspect your dog has high phosphorus levels, talk to your vet about running the appropriate tests. They can interpret the results and guide you on the appropriate next steps.
Our intentions surrounding our dog’s diet have never been more focused. However, a growing concern lies not only in what we feed but also in what has been done to the meat we buy. Commercial farming, preservatives, and genetic modifications have significantly altered our food supply, often with implications for not only our health but the health of the dogs in our care.
Buying from local farms presents a compelling solution to these issues. Local agriculture tends to prioritize freshness, seasonality, and sustainable practices. That said it is also much more expensive.
The reality is as much as we want to control every little detail we have to stand back and look at the whole picture. As such, do the best you can to feed a fresh food diet and buy the best quality meat you can afford.
As always, I wish you and your dog, Good Health!
Hannah Zulueta obtained her Certificate in Canine Nutrition from CASI Institute. She is also studying for her Doctorate in Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Herbalism from the esteemed Pacific College of Health and Medicine.
She resides in San Diego with her three dogs, Maggie, Orbit, and Mr. Higgins.