Slate points out that the study, first reported by The New York Times, leaves out how much phthalates were found. The highest levels were found in processed cheese powder in boxed mac and cheese mixes which is four times more than in natural cheeses.
Furthermore, there is strong evidence that it blocks production of testosterone as well.
The chemicals, commonly referred to as plasticizers, are used in raincoats, personal care products, and other items to make them more flexible and harder to break.
The report which is available online says that "Cheese powder generally had higher levels of phthalate than cheese slices". They have been previously banned from children's toys and teething rings. They are also linked to obesity, thyroid abnormalities, reduced sperm count and mobility and risks to pregnant women and children. Just a couple of years ago Kraft Macaroni & Cheese underwent a major reformulation to remove artificial preservatives and synthetic colors, and ostensibly get rid of these kinds of chemicals. Will you stop buying the processed food product due to the high levels of phthalates? The test was conducted on a small sample size.
When looking at the fat alone, the powdered cheese mix had a concentration of phthalates more than 4 times that of the natural cheeses, and more than 1.5 times the amount in processed cheeses.
No food maker is deliberately adding phthalates to their food products.
Nine of the products analyzed were created by Kraft, which is the leading provider of mac and cheese products across the country.
"If you asked most scientists about the top 10 or 20 endocrine-disrupting chemicals they worry about, phthalates would be on that list", Heather B. Patisaul, a professor of biological sciences at the Center for Human Health and the Environment at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, told the New York Times. For those who thought they were buying "healthy mac and cheese", this is especially alarming and disappointing.
The study was published by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging, a group of consumers, doctors, scientists, and health advocates.