by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Phthalates

Jul 25 2017

What’s the story on phthalates in Mac & Cheese?

A reporter asks:

I was wondering if you could share your thoughts with me about the new study finding phthalates in boxed Mac & Cheese.  Should consumers be afraid of just Mac & Cheese, considering phthalates are ubiquitous and found in almost every food we consume? What are your recommendations?

Here’s what I said:

The moral of this story is to eat a healthy diet and you don’t have to worry about things like phthalates.  What is a healthy diet?  It’s one in which most of the calories come from relatively unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and grains, and heavily processed foods—like boxed Mac & Cheese—are kept to a minimum.  The phthalate-in-Mac-and-Cheese problem is a processing issue.  Phthalates leach in during processing.  You love Mac and Cheese?  Great.  Make your own.

What’s going on here?

For starters, I love Mac & Cheese, although not so much for the kind in boxes.

In case you don’t know much about this dish, check out the Hartman group’s useful historical Infographic.

As for phthalates:

So why am I not more upset about them?  They are easy to avoid.  Just don’t eat foods in boxes.

David Katz has an excellent piece that puts phthalates in a wider dietary context:

This whole topic represents risk distortion, and it’s something we tend to do all the time. We all know, or certainly should, that a dietary pattern of wholesome, whole foods, mostly plants, is monumentally good for us. Such a diet not only minimizes bad chemicals in the food we eat, it – more importantly- minimizes bad food in the food we eat!