Consumer Reports Unveils Concerns Over “Widespread” Presence of Plastics in Food

by Ella

Recent research conducted by the American non-profit organization Consumer Reports reveals a pervasive presence of plastics in food, prompting calls for a thorough examination of food safety regulations in the United States. The study, released on Thursday, indicates that 84 out of 85 tested food products, sourced from supermarkets and restaurants, contained plasticizers known as phthalates, chemicals employed to enhance the longevity of plastic.

Consumer Reports also found that 79 percent of the tested foods contained bisphenol A (BPA) and other bisphenols, though at lower levels than those detected in a 2009 study. While all phthalate levels adhered to limits set by U.S. and European regulators, Consumer Reports emphasizes that adherence to these limits does not necessarily guarantee the safety of consuming such chemicals. Determining acceptable levels for these substances in food remains a complex challenge, with limits established only for BPA and a few phthalates.


Lead scientist in the food testing, Tunde Akinleye, voiced concerns about the appropriateness of existing limits, stating, “We don’t feel comfortable saying these levels are okay.” Phthalates and bisphenols can disrupt the body’s hormone production, posing potential risks such as increased chances of birth defects, cancer, diabetes, reproductive issues, developmental disorders, and other health conditions.


Among the supermarket foods tested, Annie’s Organic Cheesy Ravioli exhibited the highest phthalate levels, with Del Monte peaches and Chicken of the Sea pink salmon also ranking high. Elevated phthalate levels were found in popular products like Cheerios, Gerber baby food, and Yoplait yogurt. Fast food items, including hamburgers, chicken, and potatoes from Wendy’s, Burger King, and McDonald’s, also showed increased phthalate levels.


Consumer Reports highlighted significant variations in phthalate levels among similar products, with some chicken from McDonald’s containing four times more phthalates than a comparable chicken product from Wendy’s. James Rogers, overseeing Consumer Reports’ product safety testing, noted, “That tells us that, as widespread as these chemicals are, there are ways to reduce how much is in our foods.”


While Polar raspberry lime seltzer emerged as the only tested product without phthalates, General Mills, the producer of brands like Annie’s, Cheerios, and Yoplait, refrained from immediate comments. Similarly, Burger King and Wendy’s did not respond to requests for comments. Chicken of the Sea and Del Monte clarified that they do not add phthalates to their food, relying on supplier guarantees. Gerber and McDonald’s emphasized compliance with government rules and required testing for food packaging.

In conclusion, the findings from Consumer Reports underscore the urgent need for a comprehensive reevaluation of food safety regulations, particularly in relation to the widespread presence of plastics in various food products. The potential health risks associated with phthalates and bisphenols call for a closer examination of permissible limits, ensuring that consumers can make informed choices about the products they consume. As the debate on food safety intensifies, it is imperative for regulatory bodies to consider the evolving scientific knowledge surrounding these chemicals and take proactive measures to protect public health.



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