Laboratory testing of 10 varieties of macaroni and cheese products has revealed toxic industrial chemicals (known as phthalates) in the cheese powders of all of the tested items, according to the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging, a national alliance of leading public health and food safety groups.
In recognition of National Macaroni and Cheese Day, the coalition has issued a call to The Kraft Heinz Company—the dominant seller of boxed macaroni and cheese, with 76 percent of market share—to drive industry-wide change by eliminating any sources of phthalates (THAL-eights) that may end up in its cheese products. Detailed information and a public petition are available at http://www.KleanUpKraft.org.
"Serving up one of America's favorite comfort foods shouldn't mean exposing your children and family to harmful chemicals," said Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, a coalition member. "Our test results underscore the need for industry to comprehensively test their products for phthalates and determine the steps needed to eliminate them."
Two million boxes of macaroni and cheese are sold every day in the U.S.
For the study, the coalition contracted with an independent laboratory experienced in the testing of phthalates in food to test 30 items of individual cheese products from various manufacturers that were purchased at retail grocery stores in the U.S. and shipped to the lab, unopened, in their original packaging. The cheese product items tested included nine of Kraft's many cheese products. Findings revealed:
• Phthalates in nearly every cheese product tested (29 of 30 items tested), with 10 different phthalates identified and up to six found in a single product.
• Phthalates in eight of the nine Kraft cheese product items tested.
• Toxic chemical phthalates at levels on average more than four times higher, on a fat basis, in macaroni and cheese powder than in hard cheese blocks and other natural cheese.
• DEHP, the most widely banned phthalate around the world, in all 10 macaroni and cheese powders. DEHP accounted for nearly 60 percent of all phthalates found in the cheese product items that were tested.