(CNN)It’s not listed on the ingredient list, but a new analysis published this week found high concentrations of the chemicals known as phthalates in the cheese powder of macaroni and cheese.
The small study evaluated 30 different cheese products which included natural cheese products, including block or string cheese, as well as processed cheese slices and the cheese powder found in boxed macaroni and cheese. The analysis found evidence of the chemical in 29 of the 30 products tested. Natural cheeses had the lowest levels of the chemical, while processed cheese products had the highest levels.
The analysis was done by the the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging, a consortium of environmental health advocacy groups, and has not been published in a peer reviewed journal.
What are phthalates?
Phthalates are a family of chemicals that are widely used in soaps, plastics, adhesives, rubbers, inks and fragrances. While these chemicals aren’t intentionally added into foods, they make their way in through the manufacturing process.
“They are used in the plastic tubing, the plastic gloves, the gaskets all along the food supply chain,” said Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, one of the groups participating in the coalition. Diet is considered a major route of exposure to these chemicals…