Couple Suing Kraft Mac and Cheese Because It Contains Toxins Linked to Asthma and Obesity

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A Californian-based couple is suing Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, alleging it contains chemicals linked to childhood asthma, obesity, and hormone interference. The suit papers claim the cheese powder is harmful to both children and adults.

According to the media reports from trade websites for the legal profession are reporting about the matter, on behalf of lead Plaintiffs Aaron Clarke and Michelle Devera claims that The Kraft Heinz Company knowingly allows harmful toxins in its food products. One of the products unintentionally found in mac and cheese, phthalates, is banned in children’s toys and care products in the U.S and over ten countries.

Link between Phthalate Exposure Harmful Health Risks

Out of 30 Kraft cheese products tested by independent testers, 29 contained phthalates, including eight of the nine Kraft mac and cheese products specifically, the lawsuit states. Phthalate levels were more than four times higher in macaroni and cheese powder samples than other natural cheese, and the most widely restricted phthalate, DHEP, was the most present, the lawsuit says. Research cited in the class action lawsuit shows a link between phthalate exposure harmful health risks for both children and adults.

Phthalates are not intentionally added to Kraft products, the lawsuit says, but they are shed into food products during processing, packaging, and preparation. The lawsuit says that low levels of exposure to the chemical can have more serious effects than high-level exposure. The lawsuit claims: 

“The inclusion of phthalates in the products is entirely preventable […] and yet, putting its profits above the health of its customers; Defendant has refused to take steps to prevent the adulteration of its products with phthalates.”

Heightened Risk of Testicular Cancer

Children’s exposure to phthalates has been connected to an increased risk of developing asthma, allergies, obesity, bronchial obstruction, developmental deficiencies, and even undescended testicles in babies. In fact, phthalates are called “endocrine disruptors” because they affect the body’s hormones, including lowered growth expectations in children, claims the class action. Research cited in the lawsuit says:

“Since testosterone is absolutely vital to building his reproductive organs, the worry is that you will get malformations and other kinds of problems that translate to health effects later.” 

Long-term, those problems could also include infertility, low sperm counts, altered male reproductive behavior, and changes in the area of the brain that are important for sex differences between men and women, as well as a heightened risk of testicular cancer, later on, research in the class action explains.

Ortho-phthalates (phthalates) are a class of chemicals commonly found in many food types — from fast food to fresh fruits and vegetables. The chemicals get into food mainly through packaging and food handling equipment, like cellophane, paper and paperboard, and plastic in contact with food. While used in many consumer products, prescription drugs, and medical devices, food is a significant source of exposure to phthalates.

Why Phthalates in Food Are a Concern

Scientific evidence has linked phthalates to many reproductive, developmental, and endocrine-related health problems. Exposure is of particular concern for pregnant women and young children due to phthalates’ demonstrated harm to normal development. Every chemical in the class that has been studied for health effects has been found to pose a health risk. However, with nearly half of the FDA-approved chemicals in the phthalate class lacking any published safety data, the full extent of the threat remains unclear.

What’s Happening to Reduce Phthalates?

The FDA agreed to reconsider phthalates’ safety after EDF and nine other NGOs submitted a food additive petition in April 2016. The advocates requested that the agency revoke its approval of the use of ortho-phthalates in food packaging and handling equipment. The agency had an obligation under the law to make a final decision by September 2018.

In July 2018, the FDA agreed to consider a Flexible Vinyl Alliance petition, an industry group, to revoke the agency’s approval of most uses of the phthalates because they were abandoned. If FDA accepts the industry petition, as many as nine phthalates will remain approved for use.

These chemicals are used in many different consumer products, and they migrate out easily. That’s why they’re found in food—after migrating from food processing equipment and packaging. This is concerning because exposure to phthalates is linked to a range of severe health issues. 

Eliminate ANY And ALL Sources of Phthalates in Its Foods

Though phthalates can affect everyone, exposures may do the most significant harm in pregnant women. Their children may be born with behavioral issues and lower IQ. Boys whose mothers are exposed to phthalates could be born with reproductive tract defects. Children are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of phthalates because they eat more than adults do, relative to body weight, and are still growing and developing.

Most U.S. agencies and state governments aren’t doing what they can to protect us from exposure to phthalates. Since food is the largest source of exposure and dairy has been found to have some of the highest levels, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, and other groups are calling on grocery and restaurant chains to eliminate phthalates in food and food packaging. We are also part of a coalition of groups calling on Kraft Foods to “klean” up its act and eliminate ANY and ALL sources of phthalates in its foods.

Found In Some Food Packaging and Preparation Materials,

Food is the leading source of exposure. Phthalates have been found in dairy products, meats, fish, oils & fats, baked goods, infant formula, processed foods, and fast foods. Phthalates are not intentionally added ingredients but rather “indirect” food additives. They easily escape from food processing equipment, food packaging, and food preparation materials and contaminate food at points all along the supply chain. 

This includes food-processing equipment, such as PVC tubing used in milking and to transfer milk between farms and processing plants. Phthalates are also found in some food packaging and preparation materials, such as PVC gloves used to prepare food and adhesives and printing inks on the packaging. Recycled cardboard food packaging may have higher concentrations of phthalates than virgin cardboard.

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