What Are Phthalates and Is Your Mac and Cheese Trying to Kill You?

What Are Phthalates and Is Your Mac and Cheese Trying to Kill You? Image credit: Examine.com

You probably read last week any of the dozens of articles — similar to this one from CNN — that spread like wildfire on social media about how your boxed mac and cheese is trying to kill you, with the high levels of phthalates. If you’re like most American families, you probably have a pretty consistent 1-2 box supply of mac and cheese in the pantry for those last-minute, things-did-not-go-as-planned meals and you may be wondering if you’ve been poisoning your family all these years.

Well, first thing’s first: What are phthalates? Phthalates are basically a group of chemicals that are used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastics and vinyl. Which is why phthalates are in pretty much everything Americans buy.

Now that we know what phthalates are, you should know that the presence of phthalates in foods are nothing new. The Washington Post reported back in 2015(1) about rising concerns that phthalates were found in many consumer products ranging from the foods we eat to the makeup we smear on our faces.

According to The Guardian(2), in 2003 the Center for Disease Control:

“…recommended that the chemicals and their effect on human health be studied further, a recommendation that helped unlock funding for dozens of studies focused on phthalates, resulting in a tidal wave of recently published reports that largely indicate the CDC’s concern was warranted.”

So, back to the newfound panic about the recent report regarding the presence of phthalates in your mac and cheese, Examine.com points out:

Two things to keep in mind: this study did NOT look into phthalate health effects, and it was NOT actually a peer-reviewed, journal-published study… Basically, a coalition of food safety and public health groups commissioned this research, in order to put the main producer of mac and cheese on blast, intending to protect children and infants who are exposed to phthalates.(3)

I absolutely love Examine.com because they take very technical, scientific information and distill it down to layman’s terms so that everyday people like you and I can easily digest the information. They make it very easy to become educated about rather complex topics.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read Examine’s article and then go and do some additional reading to ensure you’re making an informed, educated decision about how you want to handle these types of products.

Image credit: Examine.com

References   [ + ]

1. Nutt, Amy Ellis. “Phthalates, Found in Hundreds of Household Products, May Disrupt Sex Development of Male Fetus.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 06 Mar. 2015. Web. 18 July 2017.
2. Westervelt, Amy. “Chemical Enemy Number One: How Bad Are Phthalates Really?” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 10 Feb. 2015. Web. 18 July 2017.
3. Patel, Examine.com Kamal. “Fact Check: Is Boxed Macaroni and Cheese Actually Toxic?” Examine.com. Examine.com, 18 July 2017. Web. 18 July 2017.

Daniel De Guia

I'm a dad, Certified Personal Trainer, Youth Fitness Specialist, 3-time end of the world survivor, geek, writer, and gamer from Santa Rosa, California. The posts on this blog will chronicle my personal fitness journey, which I hope will motivate other fathers to take charge of their own health and fitness.

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