Well, this is going to be the last thing a lot of families want to hear.
The New York Post reports that according to a study by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging, the chemical phthalates was found in 29 out of 30 cheese products they tested — including multiple items produced by Kraft, the company behind one of the most popular brands of the dinner staple macaroni and cheese.
Advertisement - story continues below
Worse, the amounts of the chemical found in the powdered cheese that comes with mac & cheese boxes were more than four times higher than the amounts found in hard cheese blocks.
What can phthalates do? Older kids and adults are apparently safe, but if small children and pregnant women ingest it, it can affect male hormones, cause genital birth defects, and learning and behavioral problems.
“Although not intentionally added to food, phthalates are ‘indirect’ food additives when they escape from food contact materials,” the study said. “Phthalates tend to be found at higher levels in highly processed or fatty foods” […]
“Our belief is that it’s in every mac ‘n’ cheese product – you can’t shop your way out of the problem,” Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, told the Times.
Tom Neltner, the chemicals policy director for the Environmental Defense Fund, told the Times that environmental and food safety groups petitioned the Food and Drug Administration 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.”
The US Food and Drug Administration says it is “continuing to monitor literature and research” on the subject.
Almost every family eats mac and cheese, with millions of Americans most likely being unable to imagine growing up without it. Will this report affect your future dinner plans? Let us know in the comments!