Seattletimes.com gives a very informative news article on the latest findings of high concentrations of Phthalates in store bought Mac n' Cheese Boxes. A new study tested 30 cheese products and has detected phthalates in all but one of the samples tested, with the highest concentrations found in the highly processed cheese powder in boxed mac-and-cheese mixes. In a report cited by Mike Belliveau, 31 samples of powdered cheese contained in boxed mac-and-cheese products were tested and 30 of them came out to contain the highest concentration of phthalates. Nine of the powdered cheese were made by Kraft.
The chemical was already banned from children't teething products and rubber duckie toys years ago but is yet to be banned in foods. Though it may not directly be used in the food preparation itself, the chemical is able to seep into the finished product through packaging and manufacturing equipments used.
The chemical is most specially harmful to the pregnant and the young. It can also cause disturbances to the male hormones and cause genital defects at birth in infant males. It may block healthy production of testosterone cuasing malformations, low sperm count, infertility, reproductive behavioral changes that are crucial to gender identification. It also increases risks for testicular cancer. Behavioral and learning problems among the older was also noticed. Still being researched is more evidence on the chemical's link to hyperactivity, cognitive delay, and aggression among young kids.
Though found as a component within various items, exposure to the chemical may be minimal. Yet, the combination of everything we consume will amount to a lot of phthalates in our system. For better health consumers will do better to:
1. Abstain from anything plasticized. Dr Sheela Sathyanarayana from Univeristy of Washington advises consumers to avoid anything where plastic is involved. Go natural and organic and avoid canned and food in ready to heat plastic containers. Also minimize use of cling wraps.
2. Go low-fat meat and dairy. Phthalates thrive in fatty food.
3. Shift to glass or stainless steel storage and food heaters. If you cannot avoid using plastic, refrain from using them for hot food and drinks. And try to completely do away with using plastic containers for microwave use.
4. Check fragrances, cosmetics, and cleansers for presence of the chemical and avoid them.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical often used in hard plastic bottles and the epoxy resin lining of food and beverage cans. It has been associated with effects on the developing brain, and breast and prostate cancer in laboratory studies.
Phthalates, such as DEHP, are chemicals used to make plastic soft, including plastic food wrap. DEHP has been shown to affect male reproductive development, sperm quality, and male hormone levels in laboratory and human studies.
While scientists continue to study the health effects of these chemicals, here are 6 simple steps to play it safe and reduce your exposure: