Are you one of the many who buy their Mac & Cheese in a box or do you go the extra mile and make it from fresh produce?
New studies have found that most cheese products have high chemical concentrations of chemicals known as phthalates. Phthalates are used in most fragrances, rubber, plastics, insect repellents and the list goes on. They are believed to be endocrine disruptors that affect our hormonal systems. Although studies reveal, natural cheeses contained the least levels of chemicals as opposed to processed products that contained the highest amounts we cannot really avoid these chemicals.
The chemicals make their way into our food products during the manufacturing and production process. Products get contaminated from plastic tubing, conveyer belts, plastic gloves, machinery and other plastic parts along the production line. Phthalate’s tend to be found at higher levels in highly processed or fatty foods.
Diet is considered a huge contributing factor in us being exposed to these chemicals that are easily absorbed and stored in fat cells. High levels of exposure have been associated with fertility issues in men and women. Children exposed to them in the utero have been reported to have behavioural and neurodevelopmental issues.
Phthalates have already been banned from babies’ teething toys. It’s recommended, as we know, that women who are pregnant have a lot of fresh food in their diet and that they avoid a lot of processed food. It is suggested to buy fresh food that isn’t wrapped in plastic and doesn’t come in packaged or coated in plastic wrapping. Pregnant women are advised to reduce exposure to cosmetics and body lotions where it’s clear that phthalates are part of the preparation of that material. The National Toxicology Program in the US states that phthalate DEHP, is likely to cause cancer based on research from mice.
According to the New York Times there are approximately on average two million boxes of Mac ‘n’ Cheese are sold in the US everyday.
Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center has claimed that its apparently in every mac ‘n’ cheese product, meaning you can’t shop your way out of the issue.
Many food safety groups have been raising awareness and have petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to remove all phthalates from food, packaging and food processing and manufacturing equipment in the US.
It is clear that more research is needed into the true impact of these chemicals and to what scale they affect us. Although we cant avoid these chemicals there are a few things you could do to try limit your exposure:
Eat organic produce, meat, and dairy. Phthalates are used in pesticides and are also found in sewage sludge that is used in conventional agriculture. Neither is permitted on certified organic produce, and pesticide-treated animal feeds are not allowed in organic meat and dairy production.
Invest in a water filter. There are granular activated carbon filters available, which should remove DEHP, which is the type of phthalate used in water pipes.
Avoid plastic whenever possible. You should never heat your food in plastic. Foods that are higher in fat such as meats and cheeses, for instance are particularly prone to chemical leaching. Even BPA or phthalate-free plastic may contain some harmful chemicals. Opt for glass food storage containers, and choose bottles that are mostly stainless steel, silicone, or glass.
What Chemicals Are In Your Mac And Cheese?
How To Avoid Phthalates (Even Though You Can’t Avoid Phthalates)
University Of Adelaide Researchers Find Link Between Premature Birth And Phthalates Used In Plastics