Macaroni and Cheese Linked To Birth Defects, Study Claims

Packaged macaroni and cheese is convenient and easy to store and prepare and comes in handy for a quick snack or menu addition, but it may have its darker side in the form of harmful chemicals, according to a new study.

These chemicals – known as phthalates – are found in macaroni and cheese products that use powdered cheese, according to research by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging.

According to a New York Times report, phthalates can pose a risk to small children and pregnant women as they can affect male hormones and have been associated with genital birth defects in infant boys. They are also known to have caused learning and behavioural problems in children.

The study said that although not intentionally added to food, “phthalates are ‘indirect’ food additives when they escape from food contact materials.

“Phthalates tend to be found at higher levels in highly processed or fatty foods,” it noted.

For the study, 30 cheese products were tested and phthalates were found in all but one of them.

The average phthalate levels were more than four times higher in the macaroni and cheese powder than in hard blocks of cheese, the study found.

According to the Times, about two million boxes of macaroni and cheese are sold every day in the United States alone.

Mike Belliveau, executive director of the US Environmental Health Strategy Center, told the Times: “Our belief is that it’s in every mac ‘n’ cheese product – you can’t shop your way out of the problem.”

Phthalates have already been banned from babies’ teething toys.

Tom Neltner, the chemicals policy director for the Environmental Defense Fund, told the Times that environmental and food safety groups petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove all phthalates from food, food packaging and food processing and manufacturing equipment.

“A chemical is not allowed in food unless there is a reasonable certainty it will cause no harm,” he said. “We don’t think the FDA can say there is a reasonable certainty of no harm.”

An FDA spokeswoman said there should be “sufficient scientific information to demonstrate that the use of a substance in food contact materials is safe under the intended conditions of use before it is authorized for those uses.”

“The FDA continues to monitor literature and research on these compounds as it becomes available,” she said.

The Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging study concluded that further research on the presence of phthalates in food is needed, and the chemical should be removed from food products.

Read more:

Leave a Comment

Security Question * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Powered by WordPress