Author Topic: Health effects of phosphoric acid in beer?  (Read 1540 times)

Offline nateo

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Health effects of phosphoric acid in beer?
« on: November 19, 2012, 08:30:00 AM »
Someone told me I shouldn't use phosphoric acid to acidify my mash because it's more toxic than lactic acid. My first thought was "that's BS." My second thought was "wouldn't 4%ABV alcohol in beer be more toxic than the 20mg or so of phosphoric acid in a 12oz beer?"

Has anyone heard about this? I googled a bit and it looks like people think Cola hurts your kidneys because of the acid, but I would think ingesting that much sugar would mess your kidneys up more than the acid would.
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Health effects of phosphoric acid in beer?
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2012, 09:18:35 AM »
Apparently there is no evidence of a connection between phosphoric acid and kidney disease.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/22/health/nutrition/22real.html.  However, the Mayo clinic says to cut back on phosphorous if you have kidney disease.  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/HQ01212.

If you are adding phosphoric acid to the mash and you have enough calcium or magnesium, most of the phosphate will be bound anyway.

Let me also add that the amount of phosphate in beer is probably negligible to the amount of phosphoric acid in cola.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 09:29:48 AM by kramerog »
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Online hopfenundmalz

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Re: Health effects of phosphoric acid in beer?
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2012, 09:49:04 AM »
Since the amount of acid you add to get the pH down in the mash is small, I would not worry about it too much.

The pH of colas are in the 2.5 - 3 range. Lots of acid, no?
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Offline nateo

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Re: Health effects of phosphoric acid in beer?
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2012, 10:33:31 AM »
You guys are probably right. I've never heard of phosphate poisoning, but alcohol poisoning is common and lots of people die from that everyone year. The person was basically telling me "don't put poison in your poison."
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Health effects of phosphoric acid in beer?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2012, 11:39:23 AM »
You guys are probably right. I've never heard of phosphate poisoning, but alcohol poisoning is common and lots of people die from that everyone year. The person was basically telling me "don't put poison in your poison."

Phosphate is a normal electrolyte present in your body. A typical IV dose of sodium phosphate we would give to raise someone's phosphate levels if their PO4 is running low would contain somewhere in the ballpark of 500-700mg of phosphate ion. I typically add less than this to an entire 3-gallon batch (10% Phosphoric acid contains 100mg of phosphate per mL). I don't think there is anything to be concerned about with the levels we are dealing with in the brewery.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Health effects of phosphoric acid in beer?
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2012, 11:45:12 AM »
I think the problem is I've been talking to Germans. They're all crazy ;). My German is limited, but I believe there were a few who claimed that all inorganic acids lead to heavy-metal accumulation in your body.

One of them lived out in the country, and he had pretty high nitrate levels (50+mg/L) in his water. He also said brewing with nitrate-heavy water was bad because the yeast converted it to nitrite. Even if that's so, I'm pretty sure the salami I know and love has way more nitrite than a beer would, if brewed with that water.
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