What Is Sodium Aluminum Phosphate (E541) In Food? Uses, Safety, Side Effects

What is it | Production | Uses | Safety | Side Effects | FAQs 

Sodium aluminum phosphate (SALP), its acidic form is used with sodium bicarbonate as a leavening agent in bakery products while the basic type is used as an emulsifier in processed cheese. The European food additive number for the acidic is E541.

What is Sodium aluminum phosphate?

SALP is an inorganic compound consisting of sodium salts of aluminum phosphates. There are two forms of SALP, acidic and basic. The acidic form is commonly used and only this form with the E number E541 in Europe while both are respectively identified with INS 541(i) and INS 541(ii) by JECFA.

How is it Made? 

SALP (NaAl3H14(PO4)8) can be chemically synthesized by the mixture aqueous reaction of sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), aluminum hydroxide (Al(OH)3) and orthophosphoric acid (H3PO4) with Na:Al:PO4 atomic ratio of 1:3:8. (1)

Properties

Appearance

White odourless powder.

Solubility 

Insoluble in water. Soluble in hydrochloric acid.

Other Names

  • Aluminum sodium phosphate
  • Phosphoric acid, aluminum sodium salt
  • Sodium trialuminium tetradecahydrogen octaphosphate tetrahydrate
  • Trisodium dialuminium pentadecahydrogen octaphosphate

CAS Number

7785-88-8

Chemical formula

  1. Acidic: NaAl3H14(PO4)8 · 4H2O Or Na3Al2H15(PO4)8 
  2. Basic: Na8Al2(OH)2(PO4)4

What are the Uses?

SALP acidic grade is used as a leavening acid to react with baking soda to release carbon dioxide in self-rising flour and self-rising white corn meal.

The combined usage of SALP and other leavening acids such as monocalcium phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate with sodium bicarbonate is no more than 4.5%. (2)

It is a slow-reacting acid and often used with fast-acting leavenings such as monocalcium phosphate in double-acting baking powder.

SALP basic grade functions as an emulsifier in processed cheese products, such as in pasteurized process cheese, cheese food and cheese spread, usage no more than 3.0%. (3)

Is Sodium aluminum phosphate Safe to Eat?

Yes, its safety when used as a food additive has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA),  Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), as well as other authorities.

FDA

It is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when used in accordance with good manufacturing practice (4) AND can be used as an anticaking agent or free-flow agent, drying agent, emulsifier or emulsifier salt, humectant, leavening agent and texturizer in food. (5

EFSA

Sodium aluminum phosphate acidic (E541) is listed in Commission Regulation (EU) No 231/2012 as an authorised food additive and categorized as “additives other than colours and sweeteners” (6)

Safety re-evaluation in 2018

It was reported that aluminum compounds have low bioavailability and low acute toxicity and there is no concern with respect to genotoxicity and carcinogenicity in its safety re-evaluation in 2018. And EFSA concluded E541 is of no safety concern in the current authorised uses and use levels. (7)

Authorised Uses And Use Levels

E541 is permitted as a food additive in only a few specific products and the following fine bakery wares products may contain with it (8):

  • Scones and sponge wares 
  • Sponge cakes

UK Food Standards Agency

Categorized in “Others” (9)

Food Standards Australia New Zealand 

It is an approved ingredient in Australia and New Zealand with the code number 541. (10)

What are the Possible Side Effects?

It is common that sometimes consumers have questions whether sodium aluminum phosphate is bad for our health and what are the possible health risks. We understand that consumers prefer natural food additives and have concerns about the synthesized ingredients in the foods we eat. It is generally considered safe but some people may be allergic or sensitive to it.

Is it Safe for Pregnant?

Yes, it is generally safe but better consult with your doctor in the condition of use.

Frequently asked questions

Is it Natural? 

No, as it is made from chemical synthesis.

Is it Vegan? 

Yes, SALP is vegan as the raw materials sodium carbonate (from trona ore), aluminum hydroxide (from bauxite) and orthophosphoric acid (from phosphate rocks) are not animal-derived. So it is vegan and suitable for the diet of vegetarians.  

Is it Halal?

Yes, SALP is generally recognised as halal as it is permitted under the Islamic Law and fulfill the conditions of Halal. And we can find some manufacturers certificated with MUI halal.

Is it Kosher?

Yes, it is kosher pareve. SALP has met all the “kashruth” requirements and can be certified as kosher. 

Is it Gluten Free? 

Yes, SALP is typically gluten-free and people with celiacs can eat it. The manufacturing process complies with the FDA’s definition of gluten free, that it does not contain wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains.

Conclusion

After reading, you may have a well understanding of sodium aluminum phosphate (E541), from its two forms acidic and basic; production; uses in bakery and cheese; approved safety, possible side effects and some FAQs such as is it vegan, gluten free, synthetic or natural and etc.

What kinds of food packaging have you found this ingredient in? Let me know in the comments.

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  1. Gypsy Butler
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