Moms were in an uproar newly after a report found that some packaged brands of cheese and macaroni may contain harmful chemicals. After analyzing 30 distinct cheese products, researchers from an independent laboratory found that all but one contained chemicals called phthalates, man made substances which have been shown to interfere with human hormones.
The highest amounts were found in the powder used to make the sauce for macaroni and cheese.
Two caveats: The report wasn’t announced in a peer reviewed journal, and it doesn’t specify how the levels compare with what has been reported to be a problem in scientific articles.
Experts did not think the results of the report must be sensationalized but indicated that the information adds to our understanding of how compounds are linked to health.
The FDA says it is unclear what impact, if any, phthalates have on individuals.
There have been many human studies linking fetal and childhood exposure to these chemicals with a plethora of development problems, including IQ, attention problems, hyperactivity, and communication skills.
Scientists measured markers for phthalates in women’s urine and analyzed their children for issues. They’ve been related to decreased thyroid function in girls in a study published in Environment International.
The chemicals are not added to the goods on function but are infused into the packaging material to keep out moisture and extend shelf life.
And while other food products with fat come in packages containing phthalates, many like milk and cheese, for example have a relatively short shelf life, so there is to seep into the food, Factor-Litvak stated. But mac and cheese have a long shelf life.
Presently, the compounds going into food packaging materials are unregulated.
The Kraft Heinz Company, making Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, stated phthalates aren’t added to their products.
“The trace amounts that were reported in this study are greater than 1,000 times lower than levels that scientific control has identified as allowable,” said Lynne Galia, a company spokesperson.
Until manufacturers come up with a way to generate packaging without phthalates, parents should try making mac and cheese from scratch.
Cheeses tested at precisely the same time as the products that were packed came in with levels of phthalates. In any case, parents do not need to go completely cold turkey on packaged mac and cheese, but if “restrict the use of the boxed goods to those nights when it’s 8:30 PM and your children have not eaten yet,” Factor-Litvak said.