Chemicals called phthalates that are used to soften plastics have been found in cheese.
If you are eating powdered cheese that comes in a boxed macaroni and cheese meal, then it is likely you’re also eating phthalates, according to a recent test. The toxic chemicals simply leech into the food.
Phthalates are widely used in plastics, rubber, coatings, adhesives, sealants, printing inks, and fragrance.
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The man made chemical compounds cause a wide range of toxicities and are found in the plastic materials, like tubes and pipes, used to process cheese, and are found again in the product’s packaging. They can migrate into food products during processing, packaging, and preparation.
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Exposure to phthalates could lead to autism, childhood asthma, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, birth defects, lower levels of male sex hormones, particularly testosterone than is needed for health (androgen deficiency), and a host of other chronic diseases.
The following is the summary of a recent lab test conducted in Belgium:
Summary of Major Findings
- Phthalates were detected in nearly every cheese product tested (29 of 30 varieties).
The testing identified ten different phthalates in all, with up to six in a single product;
- Average phthalate levels were more than four times higher in macaroni and cheese
powder samples than in hard blocks & other natural cheese, in fat of products tested;
- DEHP, the most widely restricted phthalate, was found more often and at a much higher
average concentration than any other phthalate, among all the cheese products tested.
The Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging bought 30 different cheese products from store shelves in the U.S. — 10 different kinds of mac and cheese with cheese powder, five different types of processed sliced cheeses, and 15 varieties of natural cheese — then shipped the package to the Flemish Institute for Technological Research. The institute did not list the brand names of the products they studied.
Nevertheless, they tested each sample and found significant levels of phthalates in all but one of the products. On average, phthalate levels in the powdered cheeses were found to be twice that found in sliced cheeses and four times found in the natural varieties.
Unlike the European Union and countries like Japan and Argentina, which have banned phthalates entirely, U.S. restrictions on the use of the chemicals are limited. As such, phthalates are in the plastic materials, like tubes and pipes, used to process the cheese, and are found again in the product’s packaging. The phthalates simply leech into the food.
Other countries have good cause for banning the group of chemicals altogether. In a 2016 review article for Environmental Research, for example, authors found links between phthalate exposure and autism.
A study from January of this year, published in Pediatric Research, found an association between phthalate exposure in the womb and a subsequently higher body mass index that could lead to childhood obesity.
And in a review article just published in Environmental Pollution, the authors found links between phthalate exposure and the development of childhood asthma.
It’s not as if the United States government is unaware of the dangers posed by phthalate use. It’s so aware, in fact, that it put together a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel on Phthalates and Phthalate Alternatives back in 2014.
That panel, whose report was turned over to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, found that phthalates can greatly interfere with the production of testosterone.
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