Kraft on phthalates in macaroni and cheese: ‘Our products are safe for consumers to enjoy’

Phthalates are not banned by the FDA and classified as an "indirect" additive. ©iStock/IcemanJ

Traces of phthalates, a chemical found in food packaging and equipment, were detected in products of powdered macaroni and cheese mixes, according to a study by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging.

The test showed that 29 out of the 30 cheese products contained a form of phthalates and that eight of the nine Kraft cheese products contained phthalates, according to the results. DEHP, a form of phthalates, was found in 90% of the products tested.

Studies have shown phthalates to be possible hormone-disrupting chemicals and exposure to the chemical has been linked altered thyroid function, increased risk of reproductive health problems, and brain development issues for those exposed during early childhood, according to the report.

However, the study concluded that "further research is needed on the phthalate levels in food and further action should be taken to eliminate phthalates in any food products."

Kraft’s response

The FDA does not ban the presence of phthalates in food and classifies it as an “indirect” additive that migrates into food products during processing, packaging, and production from plastics, rubber, adhesives, inks, and coatings.

Kraft responded to the report by stating that their products are still safe to consume and the company does not plan to issue a product recall.

“We do not add phthalates to our products,” a Kraft spokesperson told DairyReporter.

“The trace amounts that were reported in this limited study are more than 1,000 times lower than levels that scientific authorities have identified as acceptable. Our products are safe for consumers to enjoy.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, phthalates are present at low levels in many food products and are quickly metabolized and removed by the body.

Consumer petition

Alternatives to phthalates include bio-based plastics made from plant materials such as corn, soy, rice, wheat and linseed, which can be converted to plastics and are also biodegradable.

A “KleanUpKraft” consumer petition was started in response to the study’s recent findings calling on the food giant to eliminate phthalates from its cheese products.

 “Kraft should identify eliminate any phthalates in its cheese products by ensuring that safer alternatives are used in food processing and packaging materials throughout its supply chain,” coalition member Mike Schade, mind the store campaign director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, said.

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