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The next time you take a trip to the grocery store and pick up a prepackaged meal, there may be more to worry about then just the calorie count on the outside of the box. A study published in this month’s Environmental Health Perspectives by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) has shown levels of phthalates in common US foods. The industrial chemicals are used as plasticizers, and can be found in many personal care and home products. Linked to reproductive and endocrine damage, phthalates were found in all of 72 samples from foods and beverages tested from grocery stores in Albany, NY.
A great mystery remains as to how these chemicals are making their way into our foods. Some believe that packaging may contribute to the overall levels of phthalates, but further research needs to be done.
“It’s unfortunate that we have these toxic chemicals in our bodies,” says lead investigator Arnold Schecter, M.D., M.P.H., professor of environmental health at The University of Texas School of Public Health Dallas Regional campus. “However, this is not a cause for alarm because the amount of phthalates found in the food falls below what the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe. But it is cause for concern because these toxins and others previous reported by this group do not belong in our food or our bodies.”
Other studies have revealed food contaminated by bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and resins, as well as hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) and Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) which are both used as flame retardants.