Plastic chemicals ‘widespread’ in packaged products like Cheerios: report

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By Dan Sears

Potentially dangerous levels of plastic chemicals have become “widespread” in popular grocery products including Cheerios, Coca-Cola and Gerber cereals, according to a report.

Consumer Reports, the non-profit advocacy group, tested 85 food items sold at supermarkets and by fast food chains — finding some level of plastic chemicals in 84 of them. 

The chemicals, called “plasticizers” or phthalates, seep in mainly through packaging materials and can cause cancer, infertility, birth defects, obesity and other significant health problems, the report said.

The group is calling on the feds to ban the use of phthalates.

Products that had among the highest levels of plastics were Yoplait’s Original Low Fat French Vanilla; Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream; Wendy’s crispy chicken nuggets; Burger King’s Whopper; General Mills’ original Cheerios; Perdue ground chicken breast and Del Monte sliced peaches, according to the report.  

Boxes of General Mills’ Cheerios were found to contain elevated levels plastic chemicals, according to Consumers Report. sheilaf2002 – stock.adobe.com

None of the levels exceeded US limits deemed unsafe by regulators, but scientists say any level of plastics in food can be dangerous, according to the report. 

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This popular pasta brand landed high up on the list of foods that contained plastic chemicals, according to the report. Annie’s Homegrown

Previous efforts to reduce consumers’ exposure to plastics “focused on packaging,” according the publication. “But it’s now clear that phthalates in particular can get in from the plastic in the tubing, conveyor belts and gloves used during food processing, and can even enter directly into meat and produce via contaminated water and soil.”

The chemicals can also contaminate food via lined metal cans and plastic wraps, according to the report.

Lined cans can be a source of plastic chemicals. Del Monte

Consumer Reports noted that some packaged products had very low levels of plastic contamination when compared to its rivals. For instance, Pizza Hut Original Pan Pizza had half the amount of plastics as Domino’s Hand Tossed Cheese Pizza.

Consumer Reports tested 85 popular foods for the presence of plastic chemicals. Consumer Reports

Beech-Nut Fruities Pouch Pear, Banana & Raspberries also had half the amount of plastic as Gerber Mealtime for Baby Harvest Turkey Dinner.

Polar Springs seltzer, meanwhile, was found to have no contaminants.  

“That tells us that, as widespread as these chemicals are, there are ways to reduce how much is in our foods,” said James Rogers, who overseas product safety testing at CR.

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