FDA Urged to Investigate Hazards of Chemical Phthalates in Food Packaging

FDA Urged to Investigate Hazards of Chemical Phthalates in Food Packaging
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Senator Chuck Schumer from New York issued a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on July 30, 2017, calling on the health regulator to launch a study into the consequences of using phthalates in food packaging. [1]

Earlier in July, a study revealed that boxed macaroni and cheese contain phthalates, including Kraft Mac & Cheese. Phthalates are a group of endocrine-disrupting additives in plastics, used to make them soft and flexible.

Phthalates also lurk in fast food packaging, such as burger wrappers, soda cups, and fry cartons. In addition, they are found in beauty and cosmetic products, as well as in other consumer and industrial products.

Natural Society
Source: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Studies have linked phthalates to:

  • Various cancers
  • Human reproduction and developmental problems
  • Damage to the male reproductive system
  • Birth defects
  • Behavioral problems in children
  • Miscarriages
  • Premature birth
  • Respiratory issues in children with bronchial obstruction, such as asthma. [2]

Schumer noted in his letter to Gottlieb that federal regulators have already banned 6 types of phthalates often found in “children’s toys and other child care products, like those to facilitate sleeping, feeding, sucking or teething.” [1]

He went on:

“To think that we have all this data on phthalate chemicals from doctors, scientists, health experts and other industries just sitting around, frozen like a beef patty and begging for the FDA to take it to the next appropriate level of scrutiny is worrisome for the consumer.

The studies are clear: the link between these chemicals does have an impact on the body, and not a very good one. That is why I am asking the FDA to launch a formal investigation into the fast food products that wrap our burgers or subs, hold our drinks and contain our leftovers.”

In the letter, Schumer included citations from studies published by the CDC and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), as well as others showing that phthalates may cause thyroid and insulin problems in kids. Past research has also indicated that Americans who eat a lot of fast food have higher levels of phthalates in their bodies than those who rarely hit fast-food joints.

Natural Society
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

Schumer wrote in the letter to Gottlieb:

“Consumers are not giving these everyday packaging products a second thought. They assume they are safe — and they should be, especially when their reach extends to millions upon millions of Americans.

The agency must now take a closer look at these products for the sake of consumers and their everyday health.” [3]


[1] Newsday

[2] Environmental Working Group

[3] New York Daily News

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Natural Resources Defense Council