A new study indicates that mac and cheese may cause genital birth defects in boys. Also, it is reportedly being linked to learning and behavioral problems in older children. The popular processed food product has high levels of chemicals called phthalates, which are potentially harmful to human beings.
According to The New York Times, phthalates can seep into food products from packaging materials and manufacturing equipment. It isn’t just a few products that are affected, either. Researchers tested 10 different brands of macaroni and cheese products and all of them, even the organic brands, tested positive for high levels of the chemicals. For those who thought they were buying “healthy mac and cheese,” this is especially alarming and disappointing.
These same chemicals were banned nearly 10 years ago from infant products such as teething rings and rubber duckies. They pose a risk to pregnant women and young children.
Phthalates in macaroni and cheese mixes were at levels significantly higher than block, shredded, and natural cheeses, explained Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center. He believes that consumers can’t “shop their way around” this problem, either. The executive director thinks the dangerous chemicals are in every box of macaroni and cheese.
“The phthalate concentrations in powder from mac and cheese mixes were more than four times higher than in block cheese and other natural cheeses like shredded cheese, string cheese, and cottage cheese. Our belief is that (phthalates are) in every mac ‘n’ cheese product – you can’t shop your way out of the problem.”
According to WebMD, four advocacy groups helped fund the research project. These include the Environmental Health Strategy Center, Ecology Center, Healthy Babies Bright Futures, and Safer States.
Belliveau suggested that people contact mac and cheese manufacturers. The companies need to figure out how the chemicals are getting into the food and they need to take corrective action to prevent it from happening in the future. Nine of 10 varieties that tested positive belonged to the mac and cheese supergiant, Kraft. The company has not responded to requests for comment, according to The New York Times.
What are your thoughts on the findings of the research study? Are you shocked that your macaroni and cheese could cause birth defects, behavioral problems, and learning disabilities? What is your opinion of nine of the ten varieties tested belonging to Kraft? Will you stop buying the processed food product due to the high levels of phthalates?
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