March 18, 2018

Potentially harmful chemicals found in mac and cheese brands

14 July 2017, 03:39 | Winifred Adams

Jonathan Ernst REUTERS Kraft macaroni and cheese products

Kraft macaroni and cheese products

The highest concentrations were found in the highly processed cheese powder found in macaroni and cheese boxes. Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle, who studies phthalates, says there's a link between exposure to phthalates early in life (think prime mac and cheese consumption years) and neurodevelopmental and behavior problems in young children, such as aggression, hyperactivity and possible cognitive delays.

"The phthalate concentrations in powder from mac-and-cheese mixes were four times higher than in block cheese and other natural cheeses like shredded cheese, string cheese, and cottage cheese", Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, tells the Times.

A controversial chemical called phthalates is present in multiple mac and cheese powdered cheese mixes, according to a report from the Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging.

Researchers also found that phthalates are not just found in one brand.

The tried and true box of mac n cheese you feed your kids could be downright risky.

The US-bought food items were shipped in their original packaging to a lab in Belgium, where fat extracted from each product was analyzed using validated test methods, according to Mr Belliveau.

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While she stressed she did not knowingly eat Kraft products during her pregnancy, she said if she'd known the possibly damaging effects of phthalates, she would have done her best to avoid the chemicals while she was pregnant.

A New York Times report about the recent study claimed the harmful chemical was not banned from food products in the U.S. However, the article cited a 2014 report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission that mentioned federal agencies were asked to consider the chemical's risk "with a view to supporting risk management steps".

What are phthlates and how do they get into foods?

These chemicals are responsible for disrupting hormones, according to the global medical organization, Endocrine Society. Nine out of the 30 samples were Kraft products. Many fragrances contain phthalates, so choose unscented personal-care products, from cleansers, moisturizers and cosmetics to shampoo and detergents. Officials with Kraft did not respond to requests for comment on the report and its findings.

Image credit: Matt York / Associated Press / Chicago Tribune " Parents and their children should not have to wait longer to know that their food does not contain toxic chemicals", said coalition member Peter Lehner in a statement. They are industrial chemicals used to soften plastics and are used as solvents, in adhesives and in ink on packaging. In fact, Europe won't allow manufacturers to use certain phthalates in plastic if it comes into contact with fatty foods.

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