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As per a report in the New York Times, the researchers tested 30 cheese products, and found phthalates in 29 of them.

"Our belief is that it's in every mac "n" cheese product; you can't shop your way out of the problem", said Belliveau, who is urging consumers to contact manufacturers and pressure them to investigate how phthalates are getting into their products and take steps to eliminate it. But because exposures are so frequent and common, some level or body burden of the phthalate family of chemicals can regularly be detected. While phthalates are not added to food, they may slip in through processing. These groups are the Environmental Health Strategy Center, the Ecology Center, Safer States, and Healthy Babies Bright Futures. But does boxed mac and cheese offer a uniquely high and risky exposure to these chemicals?

These Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals adversly affect the functioning of the endocrine (or harmone) system. We feed it to our kids knowing they'll eat it and tell ourselves that the "cheese" part provides them with protein and calcium. In 2012 they released a Phthalate Action Plan that states, "Phthalate exposures are a potential concern for children's health".

Europe has banned many phthalates used in plastics, but the FDA is more lenient. Also, never use the dishwasher to clean plastics. Under the current administration, the FDA is moving toward more deregulation rather than working to implement more stringent food packaging standards and continuing to explore the unsafe potential of many contaminants and ingredients. The FDA continues to examine data on these compounds as it becomes available.

Just how much is there?

Indeed, about 710 million boxes of dry mix macaroni and cheese were sold in the U.S.in 2012, according to the study. The samples were sent to an independent lab in Belgium, where the fats were extracted and tested for 13 different types of phthalates. They are mostly used in plasticizers, which are added to plastics products to make them more durable, flexible, and transparent. "Processed cheese slices had almost three times the phthalates of natural cheese. In fact, phthalates were in eight of the nine items of individual Kraft cheese products we tested, including its iconic Macaroni and Cheese".

Macaroni and cheese lovers, beware! "The trace amounts that were reported in this limited study are more than 1,000 times lower than levels that scientific authorities have identified as acceptable". "Our products are safe for consumers to enjoy". "We know these more toxic phthalates accumulate in fat", Sathyanarayana said.

That's because phthalates aren't an ingredient.

Previous research has also associated them with raised risk of obesity. But the story is incomplete at best and fearmongering at worst. Buckely was not involved in the assessment. Regulating their infiltration of our food happens by making sure safer food processing and packaging methods are in place.


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