Phthalates are chemicals that have been banned in the use of children's toys due to the dangers that they pose. Recent headlines have taken the internet by storm, raising an issue with one particular product: macaroni and cheese. Why is pointing out this one specific food considered problematic, and what can we do to lower Phthalates in our diets?

Why Phthalates Are Harmful

Recently a website called KleanUpKraft has published a report, showing that there are a ton of Phthalates in dairy products, with the highest exposure being in processed powdered cheese.

Phthalates being in dairy products at all is an issue due to the reactions it has when combined with high-fat foods, which is why Europe has banned Phthalates from being in contact with these foods. Phthalates are known to accumulate in fat, causing much higher exposures as compared to something low or nonfat. They have also been banned from use in children's toys because they are known to cause developmental disorders.

Why This Is Misleading

Yes, it is true that the highest level of Phthalates is present in powdered cheese mix, but the new reports and headlines are misleading. Instead of focusing on the whole story, many are ignoring some key issues. For instance, Phthalates are found in all dairy products, including natural cheese blocks.

Also, not only do people who eat a diet high in dairy at risk of higher exposure but they can also be exposed due to meat as well. So this includes not just macaroni and cheese but also cheeseburgers, pizza and chicken parmesan.

The 2014 study cited by KleanUpKraft's new report has said that the highest levels of Phthalates in the diet comes from a diet rich in Meat And Dairy.

However, it is good to note that the study itself has not yet been peer reviewed, and was funded by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences.

What To Do About It?

The results seem to be pretty simple. If you want to eat a diet that is lower in these Phthalates, the best thing to do would be to eat a diet that is lower, or devoid, of meat and dairy. With dairy on the way out as the Canadian Food Guide and Harvard are removing it as a food category, and with numerous issues with meat consumption arising on a weekly basis, replacing dairy with a plant-based alternative, or switching out a beef burger for a veggie burger might just be the best way to go. Eating a well balanced and whole food diet can help you in various other ways as well.