July 27, 2009

Enhanced Meats Could Spell Trouble for Kidney Disease Patients

Uncooked "enhanced" meat products may contain high levels of phosphorous and potassium that are not listed on food labels, making it difficult for kidney disease patients to limit harmful dietary intake of these additives. Patients on dialysis are at risk of premature sudden death should their blood phosphate or blood potassium levels become too high.

"Enhanced" fresh meat and poultry products are an increasingly common source of dietary phosphorous and potassium. These foods are injected with a solution of water with sodium and potassium salts (particularly phosphates) as well as antioxidants and flavorings. While ingesting phosphates and potassium can be deadly for dialysis patients, there is no requirement that these ingredients be included on nutrition labels. There also have been no studies on the levels of phosphates and potassium contained in fresh meat and poultry products that have been enhanced.
Richard Sherman, MD, and Ojas Mehta, DO, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, examined the potassium and phosphate content in a variety of enhanced and additive-free meat and poultry products available in local supermarkets. They found products labeled "enhanced" had an average phosphate concentration that was 28 percent higher than those "labeled additive-free," with some products almost 100 percent higher.

Although most foods with phosphate and potassium additives reported the additives on the labels, eight of the 25 enhanced products included in the study did not list the additives. The authors wrote, "The burden imposed on those seeking to limit dietary phosphorus and potassium could be ameliorated by more complete food labeling by manufacturers."


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