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Daily News Blog

28
Jul

Toxic Ingredients Found in Various Mac and Cheese Products

(Beyond Pesticides, July 28, 2017) According to a report released earlier this month by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging, a national alliance of leading public health and food safety groups, toxic, hormone disrupting, industrial chemicals have been found in 10 varieties of macaroni and cheese products. The coalition is calling on food companies, especially the Kraft Heinz Company, maker of the iconic boxed mac and cheese, to eliminate sources of these chemicals from their cheese products.

The tested mac and cheese products contained elevated levels of phthalates, chemicals used in industrial processing of plastics, adhesives and rubber, among other things, as well as “inert” ingredients in pesticide products. The study tested 30 items of individual cheese products from various manufacturers that were purchased at retail grocery stores in the U.S and shipped to the lab, unopened, in their original packaging. The cheese product items tested include nine of Kraft’s many cheese products. Results found that nearly every cheese product tested contained 10 different phthalates, with six found in a single product. Eight of the nine Kraft mac and cheese products tested contained phthalates. DEHP, a phthalate currently banned in several countries, was found in 10 of the mac and cheese products and accounts for 60 percent of all phthalates found in the tested cheese products. Phthalate levels were about four times higher in the powdered cheese when compared to regular, hard cheeses.

Phthalates are used to soften plastic and are found in homes across the U.S. in a wide range of products, including shower curtains, shampoos, perfumes, toys and pesticides, to name a few. Phthalates are a ubiquitous class of chemicals and are found in most of the population. Studies have found that male babies born to women with high levels of phthalates in their blood exhibited changes related to low sperm count, undescended testicles, and other reproductive problems. Other studies have connected some phthalates to liver and kidney cancer. They are associated with adverse developmental and reproductive health effects, including low sperm counts. Scientific research has indicated that phthalates act as hormone disruptors and children can ingest these toxicants by acts as simple as chewing on their plastic toys and contaminated food. Several phthalates have already been listed as potential endocrine disruptors. These chemicals also cross the placenta during pregnancy, and prenatal exposure has been linked in studies to problems with attention and intellectual deficits.

Scientists reported this year that up to 725,000 American women of childbearing age may be exposed daily to phthalates at levels that threaten the healthy development of their babies, should they become pregnant. Many agree that for most people the greatest exposure to phthalates comes from the food we eat. Phthalates area not added to food directly, but can migrate into food from plastics or adhesives during processing, packaging and preparation.

The European Union (EU) has already banned six phthalates from children’s products, and more than a dozen other countries have done the same. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has banned the use of six phthalates in toys and child care products, but they are still widely used in all kinds of products, from food packaging to personal care products and building materials in the U.S.

In response to these results, the Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging has requested that Kraft identify and eliminate any sources of phthalates in the production of its cheese products, and use its leadership position to change the industry. Kraft has agreed to review the test results. The company has already been responsive to concerns regarding food dyes and preservatives in its mac and cheese, and announced phase-out in 2015.

“Kraft Heinz must take action now because the federal government has not done so. The European Union already banned most phthalates for use in food contact materials. They followed the science, but here, Trump’s Food and Drug Administration has yet to act,” said Peter Lehner, Senior Attorney at Earthjustice, a member of the Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging. “Parents and their children should not have to wait longer to know that their food does not contain toxic chemicals. We are asking manufacturers to act now.”

Detailed information and a public petition are available at http://www.KleanUpKraft.org

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Earthjustice Press Release

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