Mac and cheese is an easy meal that can be made in all sorts of variations — you can make it simple with a baked mac and cheese recipe or spice it up with a crispy Sriracha version. Although the comfort food might be quick to prepare, a new study shows that boxed mac and cheese might contain industrial chemicals.
According to the study conducted by KleanUpKraft, a campaign urging Kraft to get rid of harmful chemicals that might be in its products, 29 out of 30 cheese products tested contained chemicals called phthalates. The highest levels of phthalates were found in mac and cheese powder mix, with lower levels found in processed cheese and natural cheese.
In an emailed statement to The Daily Meal, Kraft said that the company doesn't add phthalates to its products.
"The trace amounts that were reported in this limited study are more than 1,000 times lower than levels that scientific authorities have identified as acceptable. Our products are safe for consumers to enjoy."
Phthalates, also referred to as the “everywhere chemical,” can be found in plastics, solvents, and personal care products and have been linked to negative health effects including early onset of puberty, interference with hormones, reproductive and genital defects, lower sperm count in adult males, and lower testosterone levels in adolescent males.
The Food and Drug Administration hasn’t banned the chemical in foods, even though there have been reports and research to support the potentially hazardous effects of it.
An FDA spokeswoman told The New York Times that there must be “sufficient scientific information to demonstrate that the use of a substance in food contact materials is safe under the intended conditions of use before it is authorized for those uses,” but the agency is still monitoring literature and research relating to the chemical.
People can be exposed to the chemical every day through microwaving food using plastic containers, sucking or chewing on soft plastic or vinyl products, and even in medical situations including intravenous tubing and catheters.