Hormone disrupting phthalates in mac & cheese? Yes, you heard that right! The Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging recently tested 30 cheese products for contaminants and toxic chemicals with disturbing results — 29 of them contained one or more of thirteen different phthalates including DEHP (bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate), a probable human carcinogen.
Why Chemicals in Mac & Cheese is Concerning + How They Got There
Phthalates are a threat to people with a proven record of causing miscarriage, infertility, asthma, behavioral and neurodevelopmental issues, endocrine disruption and early puberty. In addition, phthalate retention and bioaccumulation in the body causes exposure in vitro which can significantly contribute to the onset of these complications.
Phthalates are most often used as binding agents and to create flexibility in plastics like PVC. They can be very difficult to avoid with numerous compounds and ubiquitous presence in medications, cosmetics, fragrances, and seasonings and dairy products. The cheese products in question have been contaminated by phthalate-containing equipment and materials for food handling, processing and packaging with the likely culprit being PVC plastic.
Powdered Cheese in Boxed Mac & Cheese is the Worst Offender
The study revealed that cheese powder found in boxed mac & cheese was the greatest offender with notably higher levels of phthalates than natural cheese slices, blocks, string cheese and cottage cheese. In fact, all 10 of the powdered cheese samples tested positive for phthalates.
Take Action to Protect Your Family from Toxic Food
What can we do to change this trajectory and protect ourselves from further phthalate exposure? We can take action! Kraft is the largest supplier of boxed mac & cheese, so a petition has been created focusing on them to help motivate change. Please participate in every way you can to spread the word.
- Go to KleanUpKraft.org and sign the petition to the Kraft Heinz Company telling them to get rid of any sources of toxic, hormone-disrupting chemicals in their food.
- Visit @KraftRecipes on Twitter and Facebook and ask them to ensure that toxic chemicals like phthalates are not in their food. Use the hashtag #KleanUpKraft to contribute to the movement.
- Call or e-mail your favorite brands to let them know that you don’t want toxic chemicals in your family's food.
- Vote with your dollar by choosing to purchase foods in accordance with brand standards. In this case, forgoing boxed mac & cheese until changes have been made is an excellent way to heavily impact this goal.
Note: The participating researchers have chosen to redact the report and remove the names of the brands and products that tested positive for phthalates. We hope to find a complete list and update this post in the future.