On April 1, 2021, the National Law Review reported a lawsuit against General Mill’s, Annie’s Macaroni, and cheese products. Their products contain ortho-phthalates which this brand has failed to disclose in the package, according to the plaintiff.
The complaint alleges that more than twenty products are mislabeled and falsely advertised. The brand has falsely advertised its products as “made with goodness.” Phthalates are chemicals associated with health conditions such as allergies, asthma, and children’s hormonal interference.
The Brand Acknowledges The Issue
The complaint comes after another complaint against Kraft Macaroni and Cheese was recently reported. After the recent finding of phthalates in cheese powder from other brands, General Mills allegedly tested their mac and cheese products, and they have phthalates.
The plaintiff further pointed to the FAQ section on Annie’s website that has a statement acknowledging the presence of phthalates in their products. The information says, “We are troubled by the latest report of phthalates found in dairy ingredients of macaroni and cheese.”
According to the brand, its products contain phthalates below the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) standards. According to EFSA, a total daily intake of 0.05 mg/kg of total body weight pose no health risks. Regardless, the plaintiff went ahead and alleged that Annie’s products were not safe or healthy for human consumption.
In other areas, courts have dismissed similar claims involving false advertisements. According to those courts, failure to disclose traces of a non-harmful amount of a chemical is not a valid reason to deem the advert as misleading, especially where the substance is pervasive in the environment and present in many foods.
The Phthalates Issue is Nothing New
Food is the leading source of phthalates exposure to humans, especially babies. Food manufacturers do not add phthalates to food intentionally; phthalates occur naturally in the environment. For instance, phthalates, heavy metals, and other toxic additives have been found in children’s plastic toys before.
According to a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, most of the chemicals we encounter in our daily lives ranging from yogurt containers, bath mats to coffee cup lids, are potentially contaminated with toxic chemicals.
A Possible Solution
According to Nicole Avena, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, when it comes to children’s health, food quality is more critical than the convenience of acquiring food.
Avana advises parents to make mac and cheese at home instead of buying mac and cheese from stores. “We can’t stand back and let companies expose our children to chemicals that are known to cause health and reproductive problems,” Avana said.