The Poison in your Mac and Cheese
It was all over CNN, BBC, New York Times this week. “What Chemicals are in your Mac and Cheese?” Mac and Cheese. My kids were raised on it. It’s one of America’s iconic foods. The pinnacle of American comfort food. Here’s the rub. Ten years ago, we banned phthalates because they were found to be “endocrine disruptors” in children and exposure resulted in behavioral and neurodevelopmental issues. All the big retailers withdrew their children’s toys that had phthalates. Kids chewing on their rubber ducky were getting phthalates that soaked out of them.
Phthalates make kids toys soft and pliable. But phthalates are plastic chemicals that have a lot of beneficial applications. Your electrical wiring in your house is coated with phthalate plastics. Your vinyl flooring is resilient and pliable because of phthalates. And now we find in in your kids food. How did it get there? It’s not added to the food, it leaches out of the plastic tubing that is pliable and long lasting because it is made with phthalates. In manufacturing Mac and Cheese, there is plastic tubing that is made with phthalates. Voila. There you have it. The packaged Mac and Cheese had four times the level of regular cheeses, even the processed stuff in slices that comes between two layers of plastic.
What did this study show? Of thirty brands of Mac and Cheese, 29 had at least one phthalate, and some had six. The most common one, DHEP, is the one most commonly found and is the one most widely restricted. Kraft Foods made 9 of the 30 samples tested. There are 2 million packages of it sold every day in America. Hmm. So your kids are still getting it.
Your first response may be, “Give me a break. You can’t get that much out of the tubing from making the stuff.” Wrong, wrong. You get parts per billion. That doesn’t sound like much but it’s as much as four times the level of your own hormones. Therein lies the rub. Phalalates have been particularly linked to the suppression of testosterone.
www.What will work for me. It’s so easy to make your own mac and cheese. Just get some nice sharp cheddar and gorgonzola and make your own. Just don’t squirt it through plastic tubing. In the meantime, I’m not even buying Mac and Cheese any more when I stop at the grocery for food pantry donations. It you want to change the system, let your purchasing habits drive the market. If you want to change your testosterone, don’t buy packaged mac and cheese.
- Processed foods that come in boxes are made in large, industrial sized factories, where high pressure, high heat manufacturing methods leach phthalates out of plastic tubing, enough to have detectable phthalates in the food being made. T or F Answer: If you followed all that, you got it.
- The concentration of phthalates in processed food is not meaningful. T or F Answer: It’s in parts per billion, some four times what your own active hormones are.
- Phthalates are known to suppress estrogen. T or F Answer: well yes, but the real damage appears to be to testosterone, needed by both men and women.
- If I buy organic Mac and Cheese, I can get away from phthalate contamination? T or F Answer: Nice try. False.
- Our kids are particularly susceptible to phthalates, which is why we banned them from kiddie toys. Makes sense to ban it from their food. Answer: Not if your food lobby pays your members of Congress enough to keep quiet. But we should. (Pay attention to the language – “We are going to reduce regulations that are job killing.” Might be code for not paying attention to food contamination.)