Found ‘Widespread’ in Common American Food Items
One plastic chemical was found in 84 out of the total 85 tested food items
Many of the foods consumed by Americans are contaminated with harmful plastic chemicals that contribute to obesity, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and infertility.
According to a recent Consumer Reports article – “That unexpected ingredient is something called a plasticizer: a chemical used to make plastic more flexible and durable. Today, plasticizers—the most common of which are called phthalates—show up inside all of us.
These chemicals have been linked to a long list of health concerns, even at very low levels.
The most disturbing thing to me as a physician, outdoorsman and a fisherman is that these “Forever Chemicals” never break down, they’re accumulating at an alarming rate in our surface and ground water, and they are endocrine disrupting chemicals – meaning they wreak havoc on hormones.
In another article, I discuss other EDCs (Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals) including PFOAs.
Consumer Reports tested 85 food items—beverages, canned beans, condiments, dairy, fast food, grains, infant food, meat and poultry, packaged fruits and vegetables, prepared meals, and seafood in the Jan. 4 report. Researchers found the plasticizer chemicals remained “widespread” in our food products despite “growing evidence” of health risks.
Consumer Reports discovered that 79 percent of tested samples had bisphenols while 84 out of 85 items had phthalates.
Both bisphenols and phthalates have been shown to be endocrine disruptors, meaning they wreak havoc on your hormones. Disruptions to hormone levels can lead to cardiovascular disease, infertility, diabetes, obesity, diabetes, low sperm count, and neurodevelopmental disorders.
Babies and children are particularly vulnerable because these chemicals negatively affect the development of the brain and entire endocrine system as well as their behavior.
We are all exposed to these chemicals every day, they can come from the environment, food, and packaging, from dust in the house to the printed receipt from a grocery store.
Consumer Reports found that the levels of BPA and other bisphenols were “notably lower” compared to when the group last tested for BPA in 2009. This suggested that “we are at least moving in the right direction on bisphenols,” said James E. Rogers, who oversees product safety testing at the organization.
However, there wasn’t “any good news” on phthalates. Not only were they present in almost all foods, but their levels were also “much higher” compared to bisphenols.
Food items with the highest level of phthalate contamination:
- Beverages: Brisk Iced Tea, Coca-Cola, Lipton Diet Green Tea, Poland 100% Natural Spring Water, Juicy Juice 100% Juice Apple, Pepsi Cola and Gatorade.
- Canned Beans: Hormel Chili with Beans, Bush’s Chili Red Beans Mild Chili Sauce, and Great Value (Walmart) Baked Beans Original.
- Condiments: Mrs. Butterworth’s Syrup and Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup.
- Dairy: Fairlife High Protein Milk Shake, SlimFast Shake, Yoplait Original Low Fat Yogurt, and Tuscan Dairy Farms Whole Milk.
- Fast Food: Wendy’s Chicken Nuggets, Moe’s and Chipotle’s Chicken Burritos, Burger King Whopper and Chicken Nuggets, Wendy’s burger with cheese, McDonald’s Quarter Pounder, Wendy’s French Fries, Burger King French Fries, McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets and French Fries, Little Caesars Pizza, Taco Bell Chicken Burrito, Domino’s Pizza, and Pizza Hut.
- Grains: General Mills Cheerios and Success 10 Minute Boil-in-Bag White Rice.
- Infant Food: Gerber Turkey Dinner, Similac Advance Infant Milk-Based Powder Formula, Beech-Nut Fruit Pouches, and Gerber Cereal for Baby Rice.
- Meat and Poultry: Perdue Ground Chicken Breast, Trader Joe’s Ground Pork 80% Lean 20% Fat, Premio Foods Sweet Italian Sausage, and Libby’s Corned Beef.
- Packaged Fruits and Vegetables: Del Monte Sliced Peaches in 100% Fruit Juice, Green Giant Cream Style Sweet Corn, and Del Monte Fresh Cut Italian Green Beans.
- Prepared Meals: Annie’s Organic Cheesy Ravioli, Chef Boyardee Beefaroni Pasta, Banquet Chicken Pot Pie, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup.
- Seafood: Chicken of the Sea Pink Salmon, King Oscar Wild Caught Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Snow’s Chopped Clams.
What Can Be Done?
Regulators from the European Union and the United States have set a threshold for BPA and some phthalates. However, this does not mean that these levels are safe for consumption.
Many of these thresholds do not reflect the most current scientific knowledge. For instance, studies have associated high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and reproductive issues with phthalates even at levels far below the EU and US thresholds.
According to one contributor to the article – these chemicals are widespread and “it seems clear that they can harm us even at very low levels.”
A study published in September found that BPA was directly linked to two key disorders during childhood— Autism and ADHD. In children with these conditions, the body’s ability to detoxify BPA was reduced.
A study published in June 2022 found that phthalates in high concentrations in certain medications could raise the risk of childhood cancer.
Overall, childhood phthalate exposure was associated with a 20 percent higher risk of childhood cancer. The risk of developing lymphoma or blood cancer doubled while the risk of developing osteosarcoma, a bone cancer, rose by almost three times.
Making Food Safer
According to the Consumer Reports article “The health risks posed by these chemicals have led U.S. regulators to curtail their use in a number of products—but not yet food.”
The federal government has banned eight phthalates in children’s toys, in baby bottles and infant formula cans, however, no limits on plastic-related chemicals in food packaging or production.
Just last year, the FDA rejected an appeal from several groups calling for a ban on multiple phthalates that come in contact with food.
It’s time for us as consumers to stop relying on government agencies to protect us. Many of these agencies are completely captured by Big Industry and therefore unable or unwilling to enact or enforce common sense regulations.
If you consider that these chemicals – never break down, are known to cause harm to humans and animals, and these plasticizers have been linked to many chronic diseases including diabetes and cancer – the answer is simple, Ban Them Now!
How Do You Limit Exposure to Forever Chemicals
Because these chemicals are in so many everyday products it is important to educate yourself where to look. In addition to food and packaging items, anything with “fragrance” in the ingredient list should be suspect.
- Avoid using plastics as much as possible.
- Eat real, whole foods, grown locally or in your own garden if possible.
- Swap out plastic food and water containers for glass or stainless steel.
- Use steel or bamboo cooking utensils.
- Never microwave plastic or put it in the dishwasher – even if they say microwave safe.
- Swap out cleaning, dish and laundry detergents for ones that do not contain fragrance, phthalates or microplastic.
- Swap out personal care products like lotion, soap, shampoo and deodorant for ones without added, phthalates or fragrance.
- Avoid processed and takeout food that comes in plastic containers.