Chemicals in mac and cheese powder might pose health threat, study says
Chemicals in mac and cheese powder might pose health threat, study says
A new study identified allegedly harmful chemicals in Kraft cheese powder. Image courtesy of Flickr user jeepersmedia
15 July, 2017, 01:50
When I look back at how much boxed mac and cheese I consumed in college, I'm honestly sometimes surprised that my skin didn't start to turn orange (my dorm room did smell strangely cheesy, but I can't confirm whether that was directly related to the food).
Researchers tested 30 cheese products and found phthalates in 29 of them; in powdered cheese, phthalate amounts were four times higher than in other cheese products.
"The male reproductive system is particularly at risk since phthalates interfere with androgens-male hormones like testosterone-causing defects in the position of the urethra (hypospadias is the scientific term), testicular development and fertility", CR noted. The study specifically looked at phthalates, potentially unsafe chemicals used to soften plastics. Phthalate levels in powdered cheese were higher than those of natural hormones in the body-that can pose serious health risks for men, pregnant women, and children.
The study, released by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing and also funded by the Ecology Center, Healthy Babies Bright Futures and Safer States, found that "phthalates were detected in almost every cheese product tested (29 of 30 varieties)". Nine of the cheese products tested were made by Kraft, which makes most of the macaroni-and-cheese products sold, though the group did not disclose the names of specific products tested.
A test of cheese products revealed trace amounts of phthalates in some of the most common cheese products in the market.
Happy National Mac and Cheese Day!
While it's hard to avoid phthalates, he said simple steps could help reduce your exposure.
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The concentration of the chemicals in those products was four times higher than in other cheese products, Mike Belliveau, one of the researchers and the executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, told the Times.
According to its website, the Ecology Center is an environmental advocacy group founded in 1970 that aims at developing "innovative solutions for healthy people and a healthy planet".
Kraft has yet to respond to comment.
These chemicals can escape from plastic tubing, hoses, conveyors belts, gloves, or seals and they attach to the food.
Since phthalates bind with fats, they tend to build up in fatty foods, including not just cheese but baked goods, infant formula, meats, oils and fats, and fast food, studies show.
Busy families can say goodbye to the days of easy mac dinners: pregnant women and young children are thought to be the most vulnerable to the effects of phthalate exposure. The coalition is hoping they'll do the same when it comes to phthalates.
Further, di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) was found more often in the products and in higher concentrations compared to other phthalates.
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