Recently, a non-peer-reviewed study shed light on how your favorite boxed macaroni and powdered cheese mixes pack a lot more than just savory goodness. The study revealed that phthalates—harmful chemicals linked to a slew of ailments like metabolic syndrome, hormone disruption and even birth defects and learning behavior problems in children—were present in almost all of the processed cheese powders that they tested.
“The phthalate concentrations in powder from mac and cheese mixes were more than four times higher than in block cheese and other natural cheeses like shredded cheese, string cheese and cottage cheese,” explained Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center and one of the funders of the report.
In an ABC News segment, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC’s Senior Medical Contributor and author of Eat This, Not That! When You’re Expecting shared her thoughts about the newly questionable quick dinner. Ashton cleared things up by explaining that phthalates in mac and cheese are detected in “extremely low levels” and that the chemical is common in other foods like seafood, grains, spices, poultry, cream. She also revealed that when contacting Kraft, the food giant said the amount of phthalates in their mac ‘n cheese is well below 1,000 times what is recommended for safety. “Personally, I’d be more worried about getting into a car accident,” she jokingly added. “Have your mac and cheese!” But you may not be in the clear just yet—before you boil a pot of al dente pasta, read up on these Scary Toxins Hiding in Your Cookware and Storage Containers.