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Fast food consumption linked to phthalate exposure

Posted:  Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Dangerous chemicals from packaging contaminate fast foods

Love indulging in fast foods? But what if it comes with a side of potentially noxious chemicals? The risk of contamination of highly processed foods due to leaching of harmful chemicals called phthalates has been a cause for alarm in recent times. Phthalates belong to a class of industrial chemicals commonly used in the packaging of fast foods.

Ami Zota from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University led a study that showed a positive correlation between consumption of fast food and exposure to phthalates. The study, which was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, evaluated a total of 8877 participants through a survey on fast food consumption during the past 24 hours.

Moreover, the researchers analysed urine samples from each respondent for the presence of two phthalate breakdown products: di-isononyl phthalate (DiNP) and di-2-ethylhexylphlatate (DEHP). The researchers also tested urine samples for the presence of bisphenol A (BPA), another chemical that is linked to detrimental effects on health.

The study findings indicated that the urine levels of DEHP and DiNP metabolites were higher (by 23.8% and 40%, respectively) in participants who consumed fast food than those who refrained from it. Also, higher levels of BPA were seen in participants who consumed meat-based fast food compared to those who did not.

Phthalates have already been banned in children’s toys due to health hazards, yet they continue to be used in food packaging. Amin Zota said, "Our findings raise concerns because phthalates have been linked to a number of serious health problems in children and adults."

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