Study Finds Phthalates in Mac & Cheese Products

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Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle, who studies phthalates, told The New York Times that if you want to avoid the chemical, "use glass, stainless steel, ceramic or wood to hold and store food instead of plastics".

"The phthalate concentrations in powder from mac and cheese mixes were more than four times higher than in block cheese and other natural cheeses like shredded cheese, string cheese, and cottage cheese".

Nearly every person, especially kids and college students, can attest that they've lived on mac and cheese at various times in their life.

"Serving up one of America's favourite comfort foods shouldn't mean exposing your children and family to harmful chemicals", said Mike Belliveau, executive director, Environmental Health Strategy Centre, a coalition member.

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The analysis done by the the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging - the group behind KleanUpKraft.org and a consortium of environmental health advocacy groups - revealed phthalate levels were more than four times higher in macaroni and cheese powder.

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges that some phthalates have a direct impact on the reproductive system of animals, they say that "the impact of low level exposure on humans is unknown" and that more research still needs to be done.

The European Commission also bans five different phthalates from food packaging materials.

Just how much is there?

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Of the 30 products tested, some were labeled organic. The chemicals were most prevalent in the processed cheese powder that comes in boxed macaroni and cheese mixes. The cheese product items tested included nine of Kraft's many cheese products. "The trace amounts that were reported in this limited study are more than 1,000 times lower than levels that scientific authorities have identified as acceptable". This shocking revelation has made us question if our favourite snacks are actually safe to consume! In contrast, the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) has failed to take action in response to growing concerns and scientific consensus. The presence of such chemicals in the body was attributed to consuming food items packed in plastic.

She added, "Scientists say there are no known safe levels of phthalates for vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women and young children". Buckely was not involved in the assessment.

"Our belief is that it's in every mac "n" cheese product - you can't shop your way out of the problem", Belliveau said.

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