This morning I received a text message from my grandmother-in-law telling me about phthalates and their harmful effects on children. As I started to read up on this foreign term, I came across a chilling discovery.
Phthalates was involved in a recent study with macaroni and cheese and the findings were alarming.
Here’s what you need to know:
A new study done on over 30 cheese products detected phthalates in all but one of the samples tested. According to the New York Times, the highest concentrations were found in the highly processed cheese powder in boxed mac-and-cheese mixes. (View full report)
Four advocacy groups including Ecology Center, Healthy Babies Bright Futures and Safer State and Environmental Health Strategy Center paid for the report. All 10 varieties of mac and cheese, including organic labeled, were found to have high levels of phthalates.
Executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, Mike Belliveau said:
“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.”
“Our belief is that it’s in every mac ’n’ cheese product; you can’t shop your way out of the problem,” said Belliveau.
What is Phthalates?
Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. They are often called plasticizers. Some phthalates are used as solvents (dissolving agents) for other materials.
Phthalates can disrupt male hormones like testosterone and have been linked to genital birth defects in infant boys. The harsh chemicals have also been connected with both learning and behavior problems in older children.
The chemicals, which migrate into food from packaging and equipment may pose special risks for pregnant women and young children as well.
The potentially harmful chemicals were actually banned from children’s teething toys and rubber ducks almost ten years ago.
What Can You Do as a Parent
Over 2 million boxes of mac and cheese, are sold every day in the US due to it’s relatively inexpensive price and conveniency.
As mothers and fathers, we have to contact manufacturers and pressure them to investigate how phthalates are getting into their products and urge them to eliminate it.
Nine of the cheese products tested were made by Kraft, which makes most of the macaroni-and-cheese products sold. Officials with Kraft did not respond to requests for comment on the report and its findings.
How to Avoid Phthalates
Here’s what your family can do to avoid exposure to phthalates:
- Eat more whole fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables.
- Minimize the amount of processed food you eat.
- Avoid boxed food that could sit around for long periods of time.
- More toxic phthalates accumulate in fat so choose low-fat dairy products such as skim milk and low-fat cheeses, and avoid high-fat foods such as cream, whole milk.
- Use glass, stainless steel, ceramic or wood to hold and store food instead of plastics.
You can read more about this story here.