As part of a study, scientists at the Flemish Institute for Technological Research NV (VITO) in Belgium examined various American cheese products, including 10 macaroni and cheese (“mac and cheese”) products, and found some high concentrations of phthalates. The study was sponsored by an interest group consisting of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, the Ecology Center, Healthy Babies Bright Futures, and Safer States. The entities are participating in a campaign to put pressure on manufacturers.
The researchers found phthalates in all the cheese products except one, for a total of 11 different instances. One sample even contained six substances. DEHP, the substance most commonly restricted, was found most commonly and in far-higher concentrations than other phthalates. The values measured in the mac and cheese products are about four times higher than those found in traditional types of cheese. Details on the analysis are available in the ENVI Report. For a comprehensive presentation and evaluation of the results, see the Summary Report of the interest group.
The EU classifies phthalates DEHP, BBP, and DBP as toxic to reproduction. The results of EU risk evaluations overwhelmingly permit the use of these substances. The German Environment Agency (UBA) (German only) considers that these reprotoxic substances should not enter the environment.
As early as 2014, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published a report indicating that most phthalates come from food. In an article in the New York Times, Heather B. Patisaul, a biologist and specialist in substances that affect endocrines at the “Center for Human Health and the Environment“ at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, commented on the evidence of phthalates saying that the concentrations in parts per billion (microgram per kilogram) are nevertheless higher than those of hormones that occur naturally in the human body. And that, she notes, can have grave effects on human health.
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