Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Personal Health: Unlabeled food additives can hurt kidney patients

Published on July 27, 2009 in THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.

Food-label study: Meat additives could harm kidney patients

Raw meat and poultry products may contain hidden food additives that can be harmful for people with kidney disease, reveals a new study into the potential health risks of incomplete food labeling.

The research, which appears online in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, focuses on the presence of dietary phosphate and potassium, often injected into fresh meat along with sodium, antioxidants, and flavorings. Too much of both substances can cause death in patients on dialysis.

Researchers purchased 36 uncooked meat and poultry items, most of which listed additives but not amounts, at several supermarkets in northern and central New Jersey. Items were transferred to separate plastic bags to prevent lab technicians from seeing the food-labeling information.

The results showed products labeled as "enhanced" with a 28 percent greater average phosphate concentration than additive-free products. High potassium content was present in 20 percent of the enhanced products.

The authors conclude that more complete food labeling is needed to help an already at-risk group.

- Heather J. Chin

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