Food And Drug Administration's Upcoming Food Label Changes Offer Mixed News For CKD and Diabetics

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The Food And Drug Administration has announced it will be making significant mandatory changes to the current nutritional labels placed on foods. This declaration has been supported by both the Chronic Kidney Disease and Diabetic communities because the proposed new labels will highlight added sugar and calories in food as well as potassium and calcium per serving which most food labels currently do not. However, one notable nutrient which will not be added to new food labels is PHOSPHORUS.

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As you may know, phosphorus additives in commonly consumed foods which are often undisclosed have been called into question because of the link to higher mortality in those with Chronic Kidney Disease specifically. What's more, those at risk of Cardiovascular Disease such as Chronic Kidney Disease and Diabetics, are at an elevated risk of suffering serious complications such as heart attack, stroke or worse due to elevated Serum Phosphate Levels. 

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You may be surprised to learn about the foods in which phosphorus is "hidden." Phosphorus additives are found in frozen foods (72%), pre-made food mixes (70%), packaged meats (65%), canned soups (54%), and even bread and other baked goods (57%). Phosphate additives are put in foods for two main reasons: (1) to keep food "freshly" preserved and (2) to add flavor. 

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Phosphate is hard to get away from. Did you have creamer with your coffee or tea this morning? Yup, there is phosphorus additives in that. How about that small Fast-Food sandwich...there is phosphorus additives in that too. The issue with inorganic phosphorus (additives) is that your body absorbs it even more readily than naturally occurring phosphorus, and this causes your Serum Phosphate Levels to jump. 

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You may ask, "Why is this not being listed on the food labels!?" It may seem like a no brainer, right? Wrong! According to the National Kidney Foundation's (NKF's), Dr. Lisa Gutekunst (Chair of Council on Renal Nutrition), "They don't have phosphorus on their radar now." Although many organizations including the NKF are working to have phosphorus as a listed nutrient, Dr. Gutekunst acknowledges that it could be as much as "20 years" before it is mandated by the FDA. 

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Most Chronic Kidney Disease and Diabetics do not have 20 years to wait for a change to protect and improve their health. If that includes YOU then consider eating more organic foods which contain less added phosphorus. Also, Eat high protein foods such as whole eggs, fresh fish, fresh whole chicken, and fresh chicken parts with the bone in. These foods typically contain little or no additives.        

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If nothing else, check your food labels for "hidden" phosphorus. Common terms for phosphorus additives include: Phosphoric Acid, Sodium Polyphosphate, Pyrophosphate, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Polyphosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Hexametaphosphate, Trisodium Phosphate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Tetrasodium Phosphate, and  Aluminum Phosphate. Write these terms down and keep them in a handy place which you can quickly refer to when you go grocery shopping or cooking. 

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Maggie Hennessy. "Until Phosphorus Gets on the USDA’s Radar, Labeling Policy Won’t Change: NKF." Http:// Food Navigator USA.

"YOUR GUIDE TO THE NEW FOOD LABEL." Http:// National Kidney Foundation, Inc.

"The FDA's Proposed Nutrition Label Changes Could Help Kidney Disease Patients, Those at Risk." Http:// Nephrology News and Issues.