This article was originally published by Lance D. Johnson under the title: Phthalates and Bisphenols Now “Widespread” in Common Food Items, Silently Driving the Chronic Disease Epidemic
The chronic disease epidemic in America can be traced back to specific contaminants in the food supply. These contaminants negatively impact hormone signaling, cellular energy production, sexual development, neurodevelopment and genetic expression. Some of the most damaging contaminants in the food and water supply include various types of plasticizer chemicals. These chemicals, namely phthalates and bisphenols, are used to strengthen the durability of plastics, but they also pose a silent danger to human health.
A report from the nonprofit group Consumer Reports found these plasticizer chemicals in 84 out of 85 tested food items. These plasticizer chemicals are linked to Type-2 diabetes, infertility, immunosuppression, cancer, cardiovascular disorders, among many other chronic illnesses and conditions.
Plasticizer chemicals are silently driving the chronic disease epidemic
Consumer Reports tested 85 common food items from 11 categories that included beverages, condiments, grains, dairy, meats, canned beans, packaged fruits and vegetables, seafood, fast food, prepared meals and infant food. Of the samples tested, 79 percent contained concerning levels of bisphenols and 98 percent of the samples contained phthalates.
Both phthalates and bisphenols are endocrine disruptors. Once inside the bloodstream, these chemicals interfere with healthy hormone production, signaling and regulation. In males, phthalates directly harm sperm motility and concentration. In females, the chemicals cause early puberty, ovarian dysfunction and cancers of the reproductive system. In children, bisphenol A (BPA) damages the brain and prostate glands, while altering human behavior. In one study, the kids whose bodies could not detoxify BPA were more likely to suffer from autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Human health advocacy groups have done a great job at bringing awareness to the harmful effects of BPA over the past decade, and plastic manufacturers have increasingly moved away from using this chemical. However, plastic manufacturers use similar plasticizer substitutes (like BPS) that cause similar health problems as BPA. Consumer Reports noticed that the level of bisphenols was “notably lower” compared to lab tests for BPA taken back in 2009, so there has been progress on mitigating this chemical. However, this is just one plasticizer chemical, and there are many equally toxic substitutes and phthalates that permeate the food, beverage and cosmetic supply.
Consumer Reports finds phthalates “widespread” across many consumer categories
From the Consumer Report, beverage products with the highest level of phthalates include: Brisk Iced Tea Lemon, Coco-Cola Original, Lipton Diet Green Tea Citrus and Poland Spring 100% natural spring water.
In the canned beans category, the products with the highest level of phthalates include: Hormel Chili with Beans, Bush’s Chili Red Beans Mild Chili Sauce and Great Value (Walmart) Baked Beans Original.
Contaminated condiments include: Mrs. Butterworth’s Syrup Original and Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup. In the dairy category, the most contaminated products were Fairlife Core Power High Protein Milk Shake Chocolate, SlimFast High Protein Meal Replacement Shake Creamy Chocolate, Yoplait Original Low-Fat Yogurt and Tuscan Dairy Farms Whole Milk.
Fast Food products that contained phthalates include: Wendy’s Crispy Chicken Nuggets, Moe’s Southwest Grill Chicken Burrito, Chipotle Chicken Burrito, Burger King Whopper with Cheese, Burger King Chicken Nuggets and Wendy’s Dave’s Single with Cheese. For grains, the contaminated products included General Mills Cheerios Original and Success 10 Minute Boil-in-Bag White Rice.
For infant food, it was Gerber Mealtime for Baby Harvest Turkey Dinner, Similac Advance Infant Milk-Based Powder Formula, Beech-Nut Fruities Pouch Pear, Banana & Raspberries and Gerber Cereal for Baby Rice.
In the meat and poultry category, phthalates abounded in Perdue Ground Chicken Breast, Trader Joe’s Ground Pork 80% Lean 20% Fat, Premio Foods Sweet Italian Sausage and Libby’s Corned Beef.
Prepared meals with phthalates include: Annie’s Organic Cheesy Ravioli, Chef Boyardee Beefaroni Pasta in Tomato and Meat Sauce, Banquet Chicken Pot Pie, Campbell’s Chunky Classic Chicken Noodle Soup and Chef Boyardee Big Bowl Beefaroni Pasta in Meat Sauce.
In the seafood category, contaminated products include: Chicken of the Sea Pink Salmon in Water Skinless Boneless, King Oscar Wild Caught Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Snow’s Chopped Clams.
Finally, packaged fruits and vegetable products with phthalates include: Del Monte Sliced Peaches in 100% Fruit Juice, Green Giant Cream Style Sweet Corn and Del Monte Fresh Cut Italian Green Beans.
Combating the chronic disease epidemic will require an overhaul of good manufacturing practices in the US and around the world, including improvements in food, beverage and cosmetic testing systems for well-known endocrine disruptors. The changes should implement more rigorous chemical concentration thresholds to keep up with the latest science, and regulatory agencies should support industry efforts in cleaning up the food supply for the betterment of the population.
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