Trisodium Phosphate is the inorganic compound Na3PO4, also known as TSP. It is a white, granular or crystalline solid and mostly come in form of white powder.
Trisodium phosphate can serve as a food additive (E339) and can also be found in daily consumer products such as toothpastes, dental cleansers, shampoos, cosmetics, and bleaching agents. As a nutritional supplement, TSP can also improve performance in sports players.
Applications of Trisodium Phosphate
Trisodium phosphate uses traditionally revolved around industrial and residential cleaning. As an ingredient in detergents, degreasers, and mildew removers, this powerful chemical features alkalinizing properties that made it popular in laundry detergents and dishwashing liquids since alkaline cuts through grease and oil. It was also used as a paint prep agent on interior and exterior walls and mixed with bleach to create a strong mold cleaner. However, it is not recommended for wood cleaning because of staining properties, nor is it used on metal or glass due to damage and filmy residue, respectively.
TSP was deemed harmful by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 and is listed as a “hazardous substance” under the agency’s Clean Water Act. The Center For Disease Control also discourages trisodium phosphate cleaner uses and lists shock, burning sensations, abdominal pain, and collapse as reactions to ingestion.
In addition to its many cleaning applications, trisodium phosphate is surprisingly utilized as a food additive. It is called E339 when used for food purposes. Main utilizations include its functions as a thickening agent, acidity regulator, emulsifier, and nutritional enlargement product.
Most common foods containing the additive include meat, cheese, and baked goods. The chemical holds moisture in meat, whether stored or cooked, and helps cheese maintain its shape and melting abilities. It is used as a leavening agent in bread, cake, muffins, and similar products.
Trisodium phosphate in cereal is yet another common food application. The chemical makes minor changes to improve dry, extruded cereal color while also promoting the product’s flow through extruder equipment. Further cereal uses include phosphorus fortification.
Commercial cereals featuring this additive include Cheerios (all kinds), Cocoa Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Kix (all kinds), Mom’s Best Cereals, Trader Joe’s O’s (all kinds), Trix, Lucky Charms, Honeycomb, Wheaties, Total Raisin Bran, Cookie Crisp, Dora The Explorer Cereal, Reese’s Puffs, Golden Grahams, SpongeBob SquarePants Cereal, and Heart Healthy Cereal.
Additional popular foods containing trisodium phosphate include lunch meat, ham, and other processed meats, rice syrup, canned soups, pizza dough, cake mixes, cheese sauces, and baked goods.
Almost any food requiring processing and freezing features this additive. Despite warnings from the EPA and CDC, the chemical is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for food industry use. Trisodium phosphate’s reach even extends to the nutritional supplements many professional athletes use to enhance or support their physical abilities.
The European Union also approves the chemical’s presence in food.